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Geriatrician Care Guards Against Risk of Inappropriate Meds
Date:1/25/2008

National study found it lowered chances of being prescribed wrong drug or dosage

FRIDAY, Jan. 25 (HealthDay News) -- Elderly Americans taking prescription medications face a lower risk for being given an inappropriate drug or dosage if they receive care from a geriatrician, new research reveals.

The finding is based on a large, national review of mostly male veterans who sought care at VA facilities across the United States.

The analysis indicates that roughly one in four vets were inappropriately prescribed medications, while those few who had visited with a geriatrician in the past year had reduced exposure to such critical mistakes.

"Geriatric care seems to help protect patients who are receiving prescription medications," said study author Mary Jo V. Pugh, a research health scientist with the South Texas Veterans Health Care System, and an assistant professor at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.

"And we think this may be about more than just the individual's decision to see a geriatrician but also about the hospital culture regarding elderly care itself," she added.

The study, published in the February issue of Medical Care, is a review of data concerning more than 850,000 veterans over the age of 65 who had sought outpatient care at one of 124 VA facilities between 1999 and 2000.

Most of the VA centers were teaching hospitals in urban areas. More than two-thirds of the patients were white, almost all were male, and all had been prescribed an oral, topical, or injectable medication in 2000.

Using what they said is the most commonly accepted criteria for "inappropriate" prescribing, the researchers reviewed incidents in which drugs were prescribed for too long a period of time, for the wrong diagnosis, in incorrect amounts, or for patients of the wrong age.

They found that a little more than 26 percent of the patients had been
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