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Unintentional overdose of medication was the most common reason, accounting for nearly two thirds of hospitalizations. The nonprofit organization is involved in education efforts about safe use of medicines.
Most Drug Related Hospitalizations Due to Handful of DrugsBlood Thinners and Diabetes Drugs Are Among Causes of Many Emergency HospitalizationsWebMD Medical News
Laws differ among states as to mandates about patient counseling by the pharmacist, Cohen says. For instance, he says, sometimes pharmacists are required to offer patients counseling about a new prescription. Patients are not bound to accept the offer.
Budnitz, MD, MPH, director of the CDC's Medication Safety Program.
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The study is published in The New England Journal of Medicine.
The researchers looked at how often an adult 65 or older was hospitalized after emergency department visits for adverse drug events.
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Handful of Drugs
"Sixty five percent of the drugs they have listed at the top [of the list of most often involved] are the ones we are studying on our high alert drug Prada Glasses Black And Gold list," Cohen tells WebMD.
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Avoiding these bad events from drugs, Cohen says, boils down to better patient education.
The institute has developed patient education sheets on these so called high alert drugs. It hopes to convince pharmacists nationwide to use them. According to the institute, these high alert medicines are safe and effective. However, the medicines can cause serious injury if a mistake happens while taking them. In its patient education sheets, the institute tells patients how to avoid serious side effects.
Over a third of these visits, or nearly 100,000, required hospitalization. About half of the patients hospitalized were age 80 or older.
The blood thinner diabetes drugs led the list.
The researchers estimated that 265,802 visits to emergency departments for adverse drug events occurred each year from 2007 to 2009 for adults 65 or older.
Tracking Bad Events From DrugsThe researchers used data collected between 2007 and 2009 from 58 hospitals around the country. The facilities participate in the CDC's drug event surveillance project.
"The most significant finding of this study was [that] of the thousands of medicines available to older adults, it's really a small group . that causes two thirds of the hospitalizations," he tells WebMD.
"Both blood thinners and diabetes medicines are critical drugs that can be lifesaving," Budnitz says. However, he says that ''these are medications that you do need to pay attention to," being sure the dose and timing are correct, among other measures.
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High risk medications, such as narcotics, only accounted for about 1% of the hospitalizations, the researchers found.
As a result, he says, some patients "walk out of the pharmacy without knowing how to take the drug, what to do if they miss a dose."
Reducing RiskPatients or their caregivers can do a lot to minimize the risk of a bad event related to a medication, Cohen and Budnitz say. "Blood thinners and diabetes medicines require some blood testing to adjust the dose," Budnitz says.
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