A study published in the November 24th issue of the New England Journal of Medicine has pinpointed four drugs and drug classes that account for nearly two-thirds of the estimated 100,000 adverse event-related emergency room visits for seniors each year.

The data for the study was collected from 58 hospitals participating in an ADE surveillance project, beginning in 2007 and ending in 2009. Specifically, the study’s main researchers, all from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, identified the following drugs to be the most problematic: warfarin, oral antiplatelet medications, insulins and oral hypoglycemic agents. Whether taken alone or together, these drugs accounted for nearly 67 percent of emergency ADE hospitalizations for adults over the age of 65. Moreover, warfarin alone was linked to 33 percent of these emergency hospitalizations.

Ultimately, the results of the study communicated a very clear message to clinicians who are currently treating elderly patients. Improved management of care is of the utmost importance, especially when anti-thrombotic and anti-diabetes drugs are being used. Doctors and patients need to work together in order to safely and effectively manage the use of these medications.

Almost two-thirds of the estimated 100,000 emergency ADE hospitalizations of seniors each year were a result of unintentional overdose. Sadly, these numbers are only expected to increase as Americans continue to live longer. To that end, a federal initiative, known as Partnership for Patients, was created to focus on lowering the number of emergency ADE-related hospitalizations by 20 percent by the end of 2013.

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