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Many Seniors Unwittingly Take Potentially Dangerous Medicines

November 24, 2011 by  

Many Seniors Unwittingly Take Potentially Dangerous Medicines

A study recently published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine shows that about 40 percent of seniors who are in the care of a home-health agency are taking prescription medications that may be dangerous to their health.

Researchers conducting the study, led by Dr. Yuhua Bao, assistant professor of public health at Weill Cornell Medical College, found that home-healthcare patients aged 65 and older are prescribed Potentially Inappropriate Medications (PIMs) at rates three times higher than patients who visit a medical office for care. Data from the study show that home-health patients are taking 11 different prescription medications on average, and that the constant intake of several medications is directly related to the presence of PIMs.

In a review of data of 3,124 senior home-health patients, the researchers found 38 percent were taking at least one PIM. Senior patients taking 15 or more medications were five to six times as likely to be prescribed PIMs as patients taking seven or fewer medications.

The researchers said in most cases the problem could be eliminated if patients demanded a comprehensive review of their prescription list with home-healthcare providers to find precisely why each medication is prescribed, whether any could be eliminated and if any are age-inappropriate.

According to the study, the high prevalence of PIMs among elderly home-healthcare patients is a symptom of a fragmented healthcare system. Many separate doctors may be treating a patient for different ailments simultaneously.

Sam Rolley

Staff writer Sam Rolley began a career in journalism working for a small town newspaper while seeking a B.A. in English. After learning about many of the biases present in most modern newsrooms, Rolley became determined to find a position in journalism that would allow him to combat the unsavory image that the news industry has gained. He is dedicated to seeking the truth and exposing the lies disseminated by the mainstream media at the behest of their corporate masters, special interest groups and information gatekeepers.

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  • http://deleted Claire

    The headline of this article is so true. I am glad Sam Rolley wrote this article. At the time my mother passed away, she was taking about 10-12 prescriptions. Same with my mother-in-law. They were like zombies, and there was no quality of life. Seniors and everyone else must keep tabs on the medication that is prescribed, find out the side effects, and what it is for, and “why” they “need” it. Doctors do not communicate with one another, it is up to the patient to keep track of everything. My husband has numerous doctors, and they prescribe the same medications, the same xrays, ultrasounds, etc. For example, this past week one of his doctors had an ultrasound ordered for him on Monday, but he already had one the Friday before that another doctor ordered, so I had to call and ask why he needed another one since he already had one. There would have been a lot of duplications on tests, and thank God I caught them. And this makes me think: no wonder Medicare is going broke.
    Prescriptions–sometimes I think they are issued to keep the pharamceutical companies rich. This is a good article and we all should pay heed.

    • David in MA

      gotta keep those golf & cruise trips coming.

      • http://explorer Scout

        It’s all about what’s in it for me. The whole medical profession is one giant money-grab. Many healing medications and procedures are being hidden from patients in order to perpetuate drugs, surgery and medical stays. Cancer treatment certainly falls into this category. It reminds me of the ways gas saving devices were bought and destroyed by big oil. Read the story on Tesla and his electricity. Rockefellar bought him out and destroyed his electrical distribution device because he owned a copper company. GET THE FEDS OUT OF MEDICINE.

        • http://deleted Claire

          The doctors, the hospitals, the pharmaceutical companies, the insurance companies equals GREED. This is exactly what I think about the entire situation. Greed knows no bounds.

  • s c

    Because of what passes for healthcare (especially Uncle Scam’s role in making it WORSE), we could have daily topics here. Even if we managed to stay away from the MONEY angle (being FORCED to BUY something that is inherently unconstitutional, duplicated tests, medicare FRAUD that Congress pretends doesn’t exist, MDs who prescribe drugs faster than an old western gunfighter could draw a pistol, the FDA’s role in getting and keeping Americans SICK and the addiction of politicians to voters who are happy to vote for the criminals who promise them the most), this is a topic that just won’t go away.
    This is the day we set aside to appreciate what we have. Thanks to our veterans, including those in harm’s way now and those younger patriots who will be in harm’s way because of those who hate the military but never hesitate to use, abuse and
    manipulate them to further their corrupt political schemes.
    Happy Thanksgiving, America. Enjoy, but come back swinging tomorrow.

  • Breeze

    I’m just trying to get a refill on my diabetes meds. The Dr. is dragging his feet, I called medicare and medicaid, trying to get some help. All I’m getting is the buck passed, and I’m out of meds.

    • David in MA

      can you go to the er get admitted and tested to get your meds filled.

    • James

      Diabetes 2 is curable, if your systems aren’t too severe you can change your diet and gradually wean yourself off of prescribed drugs.

      • James

        Sorry, ‘systems’ should have been ‘symptoms.’

  • CP

    This article is a good example of WHY I keep a constant list of all medications I take. If every doctor you see doesn’t know what meds you are already taking, he has no idea if what he wants to use is going to create a problem with something you are already taking. As far as the duplicate ultra sound exams, unless they were both looking at exactly the same part of the body and checking for the same thing, the results from one test would NOT be useful for what the other doctor needed to know. For Breeze, if you are out of your diabetes meds, do go to the emergency room and explain your situation. More than likely they will be able to get you at least a prescription for a thirty day supply that you can have filled at your nearest pharmacy, using your medicare part D and medicaid cards to pay for them. In this case, you seriously need to ask your doctor what the problem is with renewing your prescription, as he may think you would be better off on something different, or you may be able to quit them completely.

    • http://deleted Claire

      I do not take meds of any kind, not even an aspirin. The side effects of medicine is astounding. Why do I want to take a medication if it causes vomiting, nausea, Montezumas revenge, stroke, heart attack, etc. A person will be on one medication then has to take another to counteract the side effects of the other medication. I see this happening with my husband. I will take my chances, I may regret it, but by gosh I am still here and active.

      • James

        I agree, I’m 83 and have never taken prescription drugs. Our body has an immune system, and if it is provided with natural foods, rather thana manmade junk-foods, it will protect us.

    • Sandy B

      You can go to the emergency room and get your diabetes meds. They are used to doing that because of the broken medical system. Talk to the nurses/docs; they will tell you that.
      My Mother has a constant hassle getting her meds on time. The doctor prescribes, then, on the day when she has taken her last script and goes to the pharmacy for refills (which the doctor says will be sent to the pharmacy on record), the pharmacist has no record of the prescription. We then have to make extra trips back to the doctors office to push them to send the script to the pharmacy. We’ve had to do this every three months for the last two years. Extremely exasperating! They tell us at the doctor’s office that they have a “system”. Yup, it’s the medical system and I’m getting too much insight into how it doesn’t work.
      If these were meds you could just drop without consequesnces, I would tell her to just stop all of them. Unfortunately, they are heart meds and you can’t stop them cold. If you do stop them, it has to be gradual. So, the medical system has another way to kill; writing the meds and failing to deliver on time. Yes, we’ve had to go to the emergency room a couple of times because it was the weekend and she was out of meds that were supposed to be at the pharmacy.
      If I could get my Mother off this stuff, I would, but she believes in the system (which is happy to kill her with toxic crap). All the meds she’s on have natural alternatives that are not toxic.

  • alex

    if it’s advertised on tv don’t take it


    I live a half block from a cardiologist, and I see seniors going into his office with big bags of drugs, that have no idea of where they are. This guy was supposed to give a diagnosis on my wife a couple of years ago, but the only way we know what he looks like is seeing him getting into his car at his office. My wife has never seen him in person, nor anyone from his office, yet he collected several thousand dollars from our insurance company, and tried to collect another fee from us personally. This is true insurance fraud, and doctors are immune from any prosecution, just like members of Congress.
    If a doctor has you on more than two prescriptions, you need to seek out another doctor. I have said for years: “DOCTORS BURY THEIR MISTAKES”, and we have several relatives that are testament to this statement.

    • James

      It would appear the government is encouraging people to die sooner, and get off of public assistance roles. Dr. Williams ( is an M.D. but deals more in prevention than cure. Check him out.

  • http://guncontrol Eileen Barayasarra

    As a recently diagnosed diabetic, I also am told my cholesterol is high. I was placed on METFORMIN for diabetes. Then the doctor prescribed NIACIN (over the counter) and ZETIA to reduce the cholesterol. The side effects of ZETIA are ASTOUNDING! Chronic lung and sinus infections, muscle wasting, and gallstones are only a few! I am not taking it! My friend is a medical doctor in another state. Her elderly mother took either FOSAMAX or BONIVA AGAINST HER DAUGHTER’S ADVICE. She is now in a hospital, unable to make platelets and her prognosis is very bad. Research EVERYTHING!! Even aspirin and other HARMLESS??? pain killers.

    • GTO_04

      So true! Beware of the cholesterol meds. Statins put my dad in a nursing home and eventually killed him. I saw all the side effects, especially the muscle wasting and the memory loss. The ultra low cholesterol levels did nothing to prevent the Alzheimer’s disease either. Statins are one of the biggest medical frauds of all time!

  • Peggy Wells

    I think it’s best to stay away from doctors but sometimes you really need one and that’s when you put your life on the line. You have no way to tell if they are really a doctor or someone with a degree and a high class of living that somebody{the patients} has to pay for. It’s a shame what Big Pharma has done to scare people out of the sun [do some reading on this] We evolved to spend our whole day working in the sun. It is so important that black folks turned white after migrating north.It took a long while. but it happened. Sunshine turns cholesterol into vitamin D3. That’s right, the sun takes care of that [and lots of other things too] perfectly and free. Never hear that on tv do you.

  • Carlucci

    Many years ago, I decided that if the “mainstream” anything (media, “medicine”, government, etc.) said something was “good” then I knew it was bad, and I always went and continue to go in the opposite direction of what those in “authority” say. I only take vitamins, minerals, and other supplements. I was in the Senior Market (and still am part-time) selling medicare supplements and medicare advantage plans. It is astounding and heart breaking how over-medicated older people are, and now they are doing the same thing to kids.

    One thing I can pass on to people are two additional things I’ve been using for a few months that are wonderful – Magnesium gel and Vitamin D-3 capsules. The Magnesium gel is topical/transdermal. I haven’t felt this good, calm, happy, and relaxed in years, plus I am sleeping much better. The Vitamin D3 is the “lagniappe” !! People do not need all of those destructive pharmaceuticals – nature and the good Lord provide what we really need in good whole foods and supplements.


    WHOA! Finally, the minions are getting it! Only one comment about “whole food”; our soil is so denatured that it cannot give us all the nuits we need. You must supplement, but it must be whole complex C, and protein that is digestible. i.e., smaller peptides, as in goats milk. Cow’s milk is contaminated, as is our air and water. Get to know pure essential oils–they know what to do; no Rx for me.


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