Friday, December 2, 2011

Yesterday, I Spent 3 Hours in the Emergency Room [E.R.] With a Friend. Who Will Go With You When You Need Help?


By:  Susan M. Graham, Certified Elder Law Attorney, Senior Edge Legal, Boise, Idaho

Sam had a cough that started about 10 days ago, and he became so uncomfortable it was difficult to breathe.  We ended up spending 7 hours in the doctor's office and E.R. until they decided what to do.

Did you know there are 4 drugs that cause two-thirds of the E.R. visits for people 65 and older?1  What are they?

1.  Warfarin, also known as Coumadin, a blood thinner, accounts for 33% of emergency visits.

2.  Insulin injections account for 14% of the visits.

3.  Aspirin, clopidogrel and other anti-platelet drugs that help prevent blood clotting result in 13% of visits.

4.  Lastly, diabetes drugs taken by mouth [oral hypoglycemic agents] accounts for 11% of the hospitalizations.

Why are these drugs a problem?  One reason mentioned in the New York Times article is these drugs have a narrow window between an effective and a dangerous amount to be taken.  Another problem is these drugs are not considered "high risk" drugs, so less attention is paid to the actual dosage.

What is the answer so you don't end up in the E.R. because of prescribed drugs?  Be proactive.  Talk to your doctor about all the medications you are taking (prescribed or not) and take the appropriate dosage.

What plans do you have if you are too ill to care for yourself?



1The New York Times, Tuesday, November 29, 2011, p. D6, "4 Drugs Cause Most E.R. Visits in Elderly."


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