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Southern seniors have greatest chance of high-risk prescribing

April 15, 2013
by Pamela Tabar, Senior Editor
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One-fifth of Medicare Advantage seniors across the country are prescribed “risky” medications, with a disproportionate number of those seniors living in the southern states, according to a new Brown University study.

The study, published in the April issue of the Journal of General Internal Medicine, examined data from 6 million Medicare beneficiaries, tracking the use of 110 medications on the National Committee for Quality Assurance has “Drugs to Avoid in the Elderly” list. More than 21 percent of the patients—1.3 million people—were prescribed at least one high-risk medication rather than a safer medications that could have treated the same condition.

Senior residents living in the southern atlantic and east south-central states were 10–12 percent more likely to receive a high-risk medication than residents in other regions. Georgia and Louisiana had some of the highest incidences of such prescribing, while Iowa and much of the New England states had the lowest.

“This is one of the many reminders for patients to regularly review the appropriateness and safety of their medications with their pharmacist and physician,” said Danya Qato, a pharmacist and the lead author of the study, in a Brown University release. “Patients are often their own best advocates.”

The Brown study received funding from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and the National Institute on Aging.

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