As you’re likely well aware, the number of elderly patients taking five or more medications is on the rise. In fact, according to a recent survey, more than 30 percent of people in the U.S. ages 62-85 currently fall under the “polypharmacy” umbrella.
While necessary, the challenge of prescribing multiple medications, of course, is making sure patients adhere to the recommended drug regimen. “Without proper oversight, patients taking multiple medications are at greater risk for adverse effects, dosing errors and drug toxicity,” says UVA clinical pharmacist Bethany Delk.
With the creation of a new Geriatric Polypharmacy Clinic, UVA aims to take some of the burden off of primary care physicians and other prescribers by helping patients develop best practices for managing multiple medications. Delk is the lead pharmacist at the clinic, working with patients 65 and older one day each week to ensure they are taking the right meds the right way at the right time.
“Patients who come to our clinic will meet with a pharmacist and a geriatrician at their initial visit, which can last up to an hour,” says Delk. “We discuss each of the medications prescribed to them, determine if there’s any overlap, identify any side effects they may be experiencing and look for opportunities to discontinue medications if possible.”
Should medication changes be necessary, the clinic team will work with a patient’s providers to communicate these recommendations, adds Delk.
To learn more about how your patients can take advantage of this resource, contact the University Physicians at JABA at 434.964.1333.