Not surprisingly, elderly adults are the largest consumers of prescription medication in the U.S. Many aged Americans are reportedly over-medicated and placed at risk by the possible side effects associated with the drugs they regularly consume. In fact, over 40 percent of citizens over the age of 65 take at least five medications on a daily basis and about one-third of them suffer a dangerous adverse side effect at some point.
Recently, new guidelines that point out the most dangerous drugs for the elderly were published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. The guidelines, which updated the Beers Criteria, were created by a panel comprised of 11 pharmacology and geriatric care experts. The group reviewed over 2,000 research studies related to drugs often prescribed to the elderly. Based on their review, the panel named 53 drugs or classes of drugs that may be inappropriate for use in people over 65. The 53 drugs were then labeled in one of three ways: to be used with caution if no alternative drug exists, to avoid in individuals with certain conditions, and a drug that should not be prescribed to the elderly.
According to the panel, many antihistamines should not be used in the elderly due to a host of possible side effects. Many common anti-inflammatory medications also place older people at an increased risk of intestinal bleeding, especially when combined with certain other drugs. Sedation hypnotics may cause confusion or severe sedation. Additionally, aspirin may not pose a benefit for individuals over age 80 according to the panel. Although the guidelines are recommended for use by physicians who treat the elderly, the panel stated the guidelines cannot replace a doctor’s judgment and should not be used in malpractice litigation.
The Foundation for Health in Aging has also created a drug and supplement diary for elderly patients to share with their physicians and pharmacists. Too often, elderly patients have multiple doctors who do not communicate regarding the drugs they are taking. Without proper knowledge, health care providers may prescribe additional drugs that can potentially create toxic combinations. Elderly patients should also be vigilant regarding possible drug side effects.
Physicians, nurses, hospitals, dentists, and even pharmacists have a duty to provide all patients with a reasonable standard of care. When an individual is harmed by a medication, they may have a professional malpractice or pharmaceutical negligence claim against their doctor or the pharmacist who dispensed the drug. In Florida, patients who were the victim of any type of medical malpractice have only two years to file an injury claim. Because insurers also have up to two years to evaluate a medical malpractice claim before a lawsuit may be filed, it is vital for you to discuss your Florida pharmaceutical malpractice case with a knowledgeable lawyer as soon as possible.
If you were hurt by a prescription medication, contact Lazarus & Lazarus, P.A. Our experienced Weston medical malpractice attorneys are available to help you get the compensation your injuries merit. At Lazarus & Lazarus, our lawyers help injured clients throughout the State of Florida including Hollywood, Fort Lauderdale, Weston, and Orlando. We also assist clients in Broward, Palm Beach, and Dade Counties. To speak with a skilled and capable attorney today, call us at (954) 356-0006. You are also welcome to contact our capable attorneys through Lazarus & Lazarus’ website.
Florida House Bill Would Make Medical Malpractice Claims More Difficult, Florida Personal Injury Attorney Blog, February 20, 2012
World Health Organization’s Statement Raises Concerns Over Medical Malpractice and Pharmaceutical Errors in South Florida, Florida Personal Injury Attorney Blog, July 21, 2011
Elderly get too much medicine, too few checks, by Jane E. Brody, Miami Herald