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Use of Potentially Inappropriate Medications in an Ambulatory Medicare Population

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OBJECTIVE: To determine the prevalence of potentially inappropriate medication (PIM) use by applying the Beers criteria in an ambulatory population of Medicare beneficiaries, and to identify the most common PIMs/PIM classes taken by this population.

DESIGN: Cross-sectional, observational study.

SETTING: Nine community outreach events throughout central and northern California.

PATIENTS: 295 ambulatory Medicare beneficiaries (65 to 98 years of age).

INTERVENTIONS: Pharmacy students, under the supervision of licensed pharmacists, assisted beneficiaries with Medicare Part D plan enrollment and medication review, including identification of PIMs.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Number of PIMs taken by beneficiaries and the most frequent PIMs/PIM classes.

RESULTS: 54 (18.3%) beneficiaries were taking at least one PIM. The most common PIMs taken by the study group were alprazolam, clonidine, and estrogen. The two most common classes of such medications were benzodiazepines and antiarrhythmics.

CONCLUSION: Many older adults continue to receive medications that should be avoided because of limited effectiveness and/or potential for harm. Prescribers and pharmacists must be diligent in ensuring that medications given to older adults are necessary and appropriate. Outreach events targeting seniors provide an ideal forum to identify and address such issues.
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Keywords: Beers criteria; Elderly; Medicare Part D; Pharmacist

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 1, 2011

More about this publication?
  • The Consultant Pharmacist® is the official peer-reviewed journal of the American Society of Consultant Pharmacists. It is dedicated exclusively to the medication needs of the elderly in all settings, including adult day care, ambulatory care, assisted living, community, hospice, and nursing facilities. This award-winning journal is a member benefit of ASCP. Individuals who are not members and wish to receive The Consultant Pharmacist® will want to consider joining ASCP.
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