"Do no harm” is the first rule of medicine, yet 106,000 Americans die each year from properly prescribed and correctly taken medications. In some cases, the cause of death is known and can be attributed to a drug-drug interaction. The likelihood of death or hospitalization is directly proportional to the number of medications a patient is taking, even after controlling for underlying diseases.2 People in their 60s take an average of 15 prescription drugs a year. Combined with over-the-counter products, they may do more harm than good.
Many of these supposed remedies are unnecessary or used incorrectly and can result in distressing and even dangerous side effects. For example, taking aspirin or a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) like ibuprofen could increase the risk of bleeding in patients on a prescribed anticoagulant like coumadin. Polypharmacy has been shown to increase adverse drug reactions and medication non-adherence.
The Morisky Widget MMAS-8 Medication Adherence and Medication Reconciliation protocol can help manage Polypharmay by:
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