According to a recent study of more than 800,000 seniors, patients receiving care from a geriatrician are much more likely to have safe and positive prescription drug outcomes than those receiving care from non-geriatrician specialists or general practitioners. The study appears in the latest issue of the journal Medical Care, an official journal of the American Public Health Association.
The study utilized Veterans Administration (VA) pharmacy and medical records to identify instances of inappropriate prescribing among elderly patients at 124 VA facilities during the years 1999 and 2000. Overall, 26.2% of all elderly patients received inappropriate or suboptimal drugs as treatment. Among patients who received care from geriatric specialists, the rates of prescribing error were much lower. Authors suggest the phenomenon is attributable to the fact that geriatricians receive extensive prescription training, and tend to watch more carefully for medication-related errors.
Researchers advise that seniors take measures to ensure that they have a very good primary care physician, and that they consider seeing a geriatrician for complex healthcare management needs or multiple chronic disease management.
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