As we age, problems can arise that require the intervention of not only our primary care physician or family doctor, but also those of specialty physicians like cardiologists, neurologists, orthopedists, geriatricians, and many others. With all of these specialists comes the potential for prescribing multiple medications. With each additional medications, the likelihood increases that you may experience a medication-related problem which may or may not be associated with your primary diagnosis or disease. The American Society of Consulting Pharmacists defines a Medication related problem as an “event or situation involving drug therapy that actually or potentially interferes with an optimum outcome for a specific patient.” In other words, the more medications you take, the more likely it is that the medicines will begin to interfere with each other and lower the effectiveness of the medicine. In this article, we will categorize the eight ways that prescribed drugs can cause medication-related problems. Using this information, you can then have a discussion with your doctor or pharmacist to review your current medications and make some decisions to appropriately decrease the number of medicines you should take. In many instances, you may find that minimal is healthier.
The following categories for Medication-related problems were adapted from the article “Seniors at Risk: Designing the System to Protect America’s Most Vulnerable Citizens from Medication-Related Problems” as developed by the American Society of Consultant Pharmacists at www.ascp.com Visit the website for more information and to obtain a copy of the article.
• A person may experience a medication-related problem when he/she has a medical condition that requires drug therapy, but is not receiving a drug for that condition. The person either may not know that he/she has the medical condition, or may know, but may not be able to afford the medication prescribed due to insurance or financial issues.
• A person taking a medication for no medically valid condition can end up with a medication related problem by taking the drug.
• Medication-related problems can also develop from improper drug selection. This effect occurs when a person’s medical condition is being treated with the wrong drug or a drug that is not the most appropriate based on the special needs of the person.
• When a person with a medical condition is being treated with too much or too little of the correct medication, a problem is likely to occur.
• A person may have an adverse reaction to a medication. In the case of older adults, adverse drug reactions contribute to existing geriatric problems such as falls, urinary incontinence, constipation, and weight loss.
• A medication-related problem can also arise when a person has a medical condition that is the result of a drug interacting negatively with another food, drug, or laboratory test.
• A person may have a medical condition that is the result of not receiving a drug due to economic, psychological, sociological, or pharmaceutical reasons.
Your physician and pharmacist MUST be aware of all medications you are taking and all medical conditions that you have in order to optimize your drug treatment regime and avoid medication-related problems. Retirement and Assisted Living Community, like those of Retirement Unlimited, Inc., provide pharmacy and medical services to review drug treatments and help you optimize your health. Contact a Community nearest you for a tour or for more information.