Seniors at Risk with Too Many Doctors

by Lois Etienne on December 15, 2010

in Senior Health and Safety

Seattle WA Senior CoupleStudies reveal that the more doctors that seniors see the greater their risk for dangerous drug errors.

An analysis of prescription drug alerts conducted by Medco Health Solutions, Inc., found that the greater the number of physicians seen by a patient over age 65, the greater the number of prescriptions the patient fills, and thus the greater the risk for dangerous drug errors including drug-to-drug interactions; under- or over-utilization of a drug; duplication of therapies; and incorrect dosages.

The findings call into question how well different doctors and specialists caring for patients over 65 exchange information about the medications they are prescribing, and statistically, it correlates a larger care team with a greater risk for preventable medication errors.

The study found that seniors receiving prescriptions from two different physicians filled an average of 27 prescriptions in a year and were at risk for 10 potential prescription drug errors.  However, when the care team consisted of five doctors, the number of prescriptions filled in one year jumped to 42, and the number of potential drug errors jumped to 16 (a 60-percent increase).

Things to consider:

  • Always tell the doctor you’re seeing what medications you are currently taking; write those down for your appointment.
  • Take notes on what the doctor says or ask the person who’s accompanying you to do so.
  • Ask the doctor if any of the medications that he or she prescribes will interact in a negative way with medications that you’re taking as prescribed by other doctors.
  • Finally, if you’re confused about anything, make sure you ask your doctor to explain it again.

For more information or to get answers to your questions, please contact your local Home Instead Senior Care office.  We can be reached — anytime day or night – by calling Spokane: 509.835.5898, North/South King, Snohomish and Pierce Counties: 800-4SENIORS (800-473-6476). You can also email us at

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