Did you know two thirds of Australians over the age of 65 take FIVE or more regular medicines?
Did you know that 1 in 4 adverse drug events in older people are considered preventable?
NPS Medicinewise in partnership with North Coast Medicare Local has launched a new educational program for health professionals titled “Older and Wiser- Safe use of medicines in older people.” The program focuses on effective strategies to assist GP’s, pharmacists, practice nurses and RACF staff to manage polypharmacy and prevent medicine related problems in patients aged 75 and over.
Local pharmacist, Sally Herbert has recently commenced educational visits to local practices delivering this national program. The program details risks associated with medicines use in older people and strategies for GP’s, nurses and pharmacists to identify and manage these risks to ensure benefits of medicines are realised. Prescribing in older people is a balance between managing conditions according to disease based guidelines and addressing patient goals, while at the same time preventing adverse events.
While some medicines increase the risk of adverse events, few adverse events are clearly preventable at the stage of prescribing, which highlights the importance of monitoring and follow up. The program encourages health professionals to consider current medicines as the cause of new symptoms and not just due to old age. Sometimes this may require medicines to be ceased or the dose reduced to see if symptoms improve.
The difficulty is there are no prescribing guidelines for older people, and the evidence supporting prescribing guidelines has been performed in younger, healthy patients in clinical trials. Therefore, identifying changes that can affect medicines use, as well identifying and addressing potential and actual medicines related problem are paramount to ensure quality use of medicines is achieved.
Importantly, NPS Medicinewise is encouraging GP’s, practice nurses, pharmacists and RACF staff to adopt a co-ordinated approach to medicines management, and to engage older people, their family and carers as active partners in health decisions. The use of an up to date medicines list and regular review by GP’s, pharmacists and nurses ensures good communication and close monitoring when starting, continuing or ceasing treatment.
Download a medicines list from the NPS.
If you are interested in an educational visit or a case study meeting for your practice or RACF for the above program please contact:-
A talk on this subject by Dr Alison Semmonds, local geriatrician and general physician, is scheduled for 6.30 pm on 27 February at the Wollongbar Tavern.