Australian Family Physician
Australian Family Physician


Volume 39, Issue 6, June 2010

Quality use of medicines in residential aged care

Michael Somers Ella Rose Dasha Simmonds Claire Whitelaw Janine Calver Christopher Beer
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Older people are more likely to be exposed to polypharmacy. People with dementia, especially those living in residential aged care facilities (RACFs), are at particularly high risk of medication harm. We sought to describe medications prescribed for a sample of people with dementia living in RACFs.
People with dementia living in RACFs are commonly exposed to polypharmacy. Prescription of contraindicated medications, antipsychotics, medications with high anticholinergic burden, and combinations of potentially inappropriate mediations is also common. There may be substantial scope to improve prescribing for older people with dementia living in RACFs.
Polypharmacy was identified in 91.2% (average 9.75 medications per person); one-third were prescribed an antipsychotic medication; and 50.4% were found to be taking at least one potentially inappropriate medication. The combination of antipsychotics and antidepressants was the most frequently observed drug-drug interaction, being prescribed to 15.7% of participants.

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