Seniors face lower risk of dangerous prescriptions with computerized hospital Rx system

Even commonly prescribed drugs can be dangerous to older patients. A study that used a computer to screen prescriptions in hospitalized patients over age 65 reduced prescribing errors.

A new study, published online August 9 in Archives of Internal Medicine, analyzes data from more than three years of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center’s new CPOE program that provided warnings to health care workers ordering potentially harmful medicine for patients 65 years or older.

Some 60 percent of adverse drug events are initiated during the ordering step (as opposed to during administration), so minimizing poorly chosen drugs could go a long way in reducing these common medical errors, which occur during up to 40 percent of hospital stays, according to the paper.

via Observations: Seniors face lower risk of dangerous prescriptions with computerized hospital Rx system.

Autism: Healthcare beyond pediatrics

Here’s a post from sfgate.com autism blogger Laura Shumaker on healthcare and adults with autism and other developmental disabilities. There’s an effort underway to develop a pilot program that would train San Francisco’s doctors to recognize health issues in this population. Read on to see why this is important:

Talia Schultz of San Francisco, who has autism and few words to tell people what’s wrong, was rushed to the ER with an infected gallbladder. Her sister Sarah, who had assumed 40-year-old Talia’s care a month before after their mother’s death, felt terrible.”I had no idea she was so sick!” she said.

Talia developed complications during an emergency gallbladder surgery, resulting in a more extensive surgery and a longer, very expensive, hospital stay.

“People with autism often don’t have typical pain behavior like grimacing or clutching their stomach,” says Dr. Clarissa Kripke, Director, Developmental Primary Care, Department of Family and Community Medicine at UCSF, “so it can be hard for others to recognize.”

Dr. Kripke sees situations like Talia’s at least daily.As children, the developmentally disabled can usually depend on parents and pediatricians to be their medical advocates. Yet when they grow into adulthood, there are few experienced physicians and other trained health care providers to take care of them. And there’s no system to ensure their care as their aging parents can no longer advocate for them.

via City Brights: Laura Shumaker : Autism: Healthcare beyond pediatrics.

Caregiving: Making decisions for dementia patients

As I mentioned earlier, one of the most frightening parts of caregiving for me is taking decisions on behalf of the patient.In most aging, the elder takes his or her own decisions, but in the case of dementia patients, decision-making is the caregiver’s responsibility.

Is the patient in pain or not, and should I call the doctor? What, exactly, is paining, and how much? Did the patient’s pain reduce with the medication? If the doctor offers a choice, should antibiotics be given or not, if the patient may not benefit from them? How aggressive and invasive should treatment be? Should the patient be hospitalized?

My current phase of caregiving may require tough decisions that my mother can no longer participate in, as she just does not understand anything.

via Decision making for dementia patients « Swapna writes….

Pneumonia and Influenza Flu Hospitalizations in Elderly People with Dementia

Limited access to specialized health care services can delay diagnosis and treatment of the flu, causing it to progress to pneumonia, the fifth leading cause of death among the elderly…It could be beneficial to refine guidelines for the immunization, testing, and treatment of flu in older patients with dementia when planning for the possibility of a flu pandemic. — Elena Naumova, PhD, professor of public health and community medicine at Tufts University School of Medicine

via Alzheimer’s Reading Room: Pneumonia and Influenza Flu Hospitalizations in Elderly People with Dementia.

American Society Of Anesthesiologists Offers Tips To Help Seniors And Their Caregivers Prepare For Surgery

As a growing number of the estimated 78 million Baby Boomers transition into their senior years, an increased focus is placed on the health of this important group of Americans. According to the United States Census Bureau, more than 12 percent of the total U.S. population is over age 65 and, of that segment, more than half will undergo at least one surgical procedure as senior citizens.

Research indicates that seniors are at an increased risk for experiencing complications both during and after surgery. In an effort to ensure that senior patients have the best possible outcome, the American Society of Anesthesiologists ASA has developed a set of tips to help prepare senior citizens and their caregivers for surgery.

via American Society Of Anesthesiologists Offers Tips To Help Seniors And Their Caregivers Prepare For Surgery.