Prevent high risk drug abuse among elderly in the south

‘Geography is destiny’

Residents of the South Atlantic, East South Central and West South Central regions of the country — an area stretching from parts of Texas to South Carolina — had a 10 to 12 percentage point higher risk of receiving potentially harmful prescriptions than people in New England, who had the lowest chance, the analysis found.

The trend persists at the finer resolution of “hospital-referral regions” or HRRs, the authors note. “The 20 lowest performing HRRs were all in the Southern region of the United States. In contrast,” they wrote in the journal, “only one of the 20 highest performing HRRs was in the South.”

Albany, Ga., had the highest rate of receipt of single high-risk prescriptions: 38.2 percent. Seniors in Alexandria, La., led the nation in receiving at least two high-risk prescriptions, with a rate of 13.5 percent. Mason City, Iowa (9.6%) and Worcester, Mass. (0.7%), had the best rate of single and multiple high-risk prescription use, respectively.

In another demographic analysis, women across the country had a 10 percentage point greater likelihood of receiving a high-risk prescription. Other differences were less stark. Generally the lower the socioeconomic status of a patient’s region, the more likely they were to receive a high-risk medication. Residents of the poorest areas had a 2.7 percentage point higher risk than the residents of the richest areas.

Connie’s comments: Caregivers, family members and spouses should monitor the health status of the elderly they care for after taking medications every day. Note status of urination, constipation, loss of appetite and dizziness. Talk to the doctor about your observations and ask for lower dose or stopping or substituting a particular medication with adverse side effects.

Outpatient population are not regularly monitored once they leave the hospitals.

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