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Hospitalizations for Medication and Illicit Drug-related Conditions on the Rise Among Americans Ages 45 and Older
Date:10/25/2010

ROCKVILLE, Md., Oct. 25 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The number of hospital admissions among Americans ages 45 and older for medication and drug-related conditions doubled between 1997 and 2008, according to a new report released today by HHS' Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.  Medication and drug-related conditions include effects of both prescription and over-the-counter medications as well as illicit drugs.

Hospital admissions among those 45 years and older were driven by growth in discharges for three types of medication and drug-related conditions – drug-induced delirium; "poisoning" or overdose by codeine, meperidine and other opiate-based pain medicines; and withdrawal from narcotic or non-narcotic drugs.

Admissions for all medication and drug-related conditions grew by 117 percent – from 30,100 to 65,400 – for 45- to 64-year-olds between 1997 and 2008. The rate of admissions for people ages 65 to 84 closely followed, growing by 96 percent, and for people ages 85 and older, the rate grew by 87 percent. By comparison, the number of hospital admissions for these conditions among adults ages 18 to 44 declined slightly by 11 percent.

"This report reveals a disturbing trend, and we need to find out more about why these admissions are increasing," said AHRQ Director Carolyn M. Clancy, M.D. "As the average age of hospital patients continues to increase, so does the need for close monitoring of the types and dosages of drugs given to them."  

Drug-induced delirium or dementia can be caused by sleeping pills as well as drugs for urinary incontinence, nausea and other problems common in the elderly, but doctors sometimes cannot identify the cause.  Poisoning by pain medicines or other drugs containing codeine, meperidine or other opiates can be caused by accidental overdosing or the failure to recognize the drug's active ingredient.  Drug withdrawal occurs when there is an abrupt withdrawal
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SOURCE Agency for Healthcare Research & Quality
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