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Medication can harm as well as help.
Medication can harm as well as help.
Medication can harm as well as help.

Medication Related Harm Explained

Don’t medications fix conditions not create issues?

Here are some sobering statistics to consider:

  • Eighty-eight per cent of people taking five or more medications will be experiencing side effects and they may not even realise.
  • Some 230,000 people each year are admitted to hospital, and many more people experience reduced quality of life, as a result of adverse drug reactions (side effects) from medicines
  • Sixty-six per cent of Australians over the age of 75 are taking five or more medications.
  • Twenty-four per cent of medication-related problems can be attributed to the way medicines are stored, managed and used in the home.

What is medicated related harm?

It is where someone experiences a harmful effect from their medication. It may be non-predictable, eg, an allergic reaction; predictable, eg, a side effect; or preventable, eg, a medication error. Another name for this is an adverse drug event.

The more medicines a person takes, the greater chance of experiencing some sort of side effect from one or more of them. The tipping point appears to be five or more medications so the most dangerous drug you can take is the sixth one!

Why is eliminating medication related harm important?

In addition to the impact on quality of life, an individual may also require a clinical intervention such as a visit to a doctor or the hospital. It is estimated that medication-related harm contributes to about 30 per cent of hospitalisations in older Australians. Up to 15% of older people visiting their doctor report experiencing some sort of medication-related harm, and up to a quarter of these are deemed preventable.

How can we eliminate medication related harm?

Be informed. Ensure you ask your doctor and pharmacist questions as to why they are being prescribed that medication, and what to expect, both as a benefit and potential risk (or side effect).

It is also important to adhere to the medication regime outlined by the doctor or pharmacist — taking medication at the right time or storing it in the right environment can be critical to the success of its effectiveness.

Proactive medication care is essential to eliminating medication harm.

Ward MM's highly trained clinical pharmacist are experts in geriatric medicine and can help by providing the following services;