Four drugs responsible for majority of visits to ER, according to CDC
The State Column | Staff | Sunday, November 27, 2011
A study released this week finds that four drugs are mainly responsible for most of the emergency room visits in the U.S.
The study, by researchers from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, singles out four drugs and drug classes — warfarin, oral antiplatelet medications, insulins, and oral hypoglycemic agents. The study also noted that better management of antithrombotic and anti-diabetic drugs could help avoid thousands of emergency admissions.
The study, published Thursday in the New England Journal of Medicine, highlights a couple of key issues doctors and patients need to be acutely aware of. The first is adverse reactions to medication, and the second is unintentional overdoses.
According to researchers, nearly 100,000 hospitalizations every year are linked to adverse drug events such as allergic reactions and unintentional overdoses. Nearly half, or 48.1 percent, of those hospitalized were adults 80 years old or older.
“These data suggest that focusing safety initiatives on a few medicines that commonly cause serious, measurable harms can improve care for many older Americans,” said lead study author Dr. Daniel Budnitz, director of the CDC’s medication safety program. “Blood thinners and diabetes medicines often require blood testing and dosing changes, but these are critical medicines for older adults with certain medical conditions.”
“Of the thousands of medications available to older patients, a small group of blood thinners and diabetes medications caused a high proportion of emergency hospitalizations for adverse drug events among elderly Americans,” he added.
The study comes as the Obama administration has sought to decrease the number of emergency room visits by upwards of 20 percent. The new healthcare law could results in nearly 32 million newly insured people visiting emergency rooms already crammed beyond capacity, according to experts on healthcare facilities. President Obama has urged preventative practices in order to lower the rate of emergency rooms visits.