Reducing High-Risk Medications in Older Adults

The number of medications used and risk of an adverse drug event (ADE) typically increases with age. Older adults, those 65 years or older, are more likely to experience an ADE than younger adults. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates 1.3 million visits to the emergency department (ED) and 350,000 hospital stays are attributed to an ADE. Older adults are two times more likely to visit an ED and seven times more likely to require a hospital stay due to an ADE than younger adults.

The American Geriatrics Society Beers Criteria for Potentially Inappropriate Medication Use in Older Adults suggests avoiding the following medications with a strong recommendation in most cases. These medications should be discontinued and switched to a safer alternative when possible or maintained at the lowest effective dose.

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