The American Nurses' Association (ANA) is expressing its concern over adverse drug reactions and interactions of prescription and over-the-counter drugs in America's growing elderly population.
In a policy statement adopted by the ANA Board of Directors, the association notes that 30,000 to 40,000 deaths were attributed to adverse drug reactions and interactions in 1988, the latest year of available record.
"Many elderly, by virtue of coexisting chronic disease states, require multiple drug therapy," the ANA statement notes. "Research in gerontology has indicated that a judicious approach to medication administration should be used with elderly patients."
ANA advocates that older adults receive the fewest possible number of drugs and that drug use should be monitored by licensed health-care personnel under the close supervision of a registered nurse, physician, or pharmacist. Additionally, older adults should be involved in decision making concerning their drug therapy.
To combat the problem and improve the health of elderly Americans, ANA supports four principles. Upon admission of an older adult to any health-care institution or community health setting, a drug profile should be created to review all drugs used by that patient. This drug profile should be monitored and periodically re-evaluated by a registered nurse, physician, or pharmacist for unnecessary and excessive drug use.
Nurses should communicate concerns about polypharmacy, document adverse drug reactions, and refuse to give medications that in their judgment may adversely affect their older patients. Research including elderly subjects should continue in pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics, and promotion of safe self-medication and drug administration practices.
For more information, contact Joan Meehan, ANA, 2420 Pershing Road, Kansas City, MO 641 08; 81 6-474-5720.