New research shows doctors are prescribing too many inappropriate medications for older people. Using data from national health care surveys, researchers, looked at prescribing patterns in physicians' offices and outpatient clinics in 1995 and 2000. The results showed nearly 8 percent of all the visits involved prescribing at least one drug on the "inappropriate" list. Nearly 4 percent of the visits involved the prescribing of a drug considered by the experts to be "never or rarely appropriate" for people over age 65.
People with multiple prescriptions were significantly more likely to receive an inappropriate prescription, and women had about twice the chance as men of receiving a prescription that might be dangerous.
The most common inappropriate drugs prescribed in the study were painkillers and drugs that act on the central nervous system, such as sedatives, antidepressants, and drugs used to treat anxiety. Researchers say, "One possibility is that physicians are used to prescribing the older drugs and inappropriate drugs in these classes and may not be aware of their risks."
Researchers say the above findings suggests the need for quality improvement efforts that address these specific issues -- physician knowledge, habit, cost management, and patient demand -- for antidepressant, anti-anxiety, sedative/hypnotic, and pain reliever prescribing.