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Southern Elderly Population Tend to Get Riskier Prescription Drugs

Update Date: Apr 12, 2013 09:33 AM EDT

The health care system within the United States is recently going through ups and downs with changes in Medicare that are making it harder for some people to receive insurance. A recent report looked into how different health care options throughout the United States affect the type of prescriptions that patients, particularly the elderly, receive. One of the specific areas that this new study looked into was the rate of patients receiving high-risk drugs, with 20 percent of the people under Medicare Advantage prescribed at least one riskier type of medication. Not only do different types of health care lead to different kinds of medications, the reports found that elderly from the Southeast had the highest chance of being prescribed a riskier drug.

"Geography really stands out," co-author of the study, Amal Trivedi stated. Trivedi is an associate professor of health services policy and practice from Brown University's Alpert Medical School.

The study discovered that in certain areas of the south, over one-third of the elderly was prescribed medications that could be exchanged for safer ones, and that 10 percent of seniors are taking two or more of these dangerous prescription drugs. More specifically, the researchers reported that 38 percent of seniors under Medicare Advantage in Albany, GA, was prescribed at least one high-risk drug. This rate was 10 percent in Mason City, Iowa. The researchers also noted that the people who tended to fall into these percentages tended to be poor, white, and female.

Although the researchers could not determine why people in the south are prescribed riskier drugs, they stated that it could be anything from people asking for these types of drug to doctors practicing traditional medicine. A lot of the drugs that are considered to be risky tend to also be older drugs, such as old-style sedating antihistamines.

The researchers based their study on the National Committee for Quality Assurance's long list of drugs that should not be given to the elderly. The study was published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine

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