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December 12, 2001

Improving Drug Use in Elderly PatientsGetting to the Next Level

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliation: Harvard Medical School, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, Mass.

JAMA. 2001;286(22):2866-2868. doi:10.1001/jama.286.22.2866

The sensation of déjà vu is always unsettling, more so if the event reexperienced is an unpleasant one. In this issue of THE JOURNAL, Zhan and colleagues1 provide a reprise of a now-classic tale in geriatric pharmacology and remind physicians of a persistent and troublesome issue in the care of the elderly population. The authors adapted a well-known list of drugs to be avoided in elderly patients24 and apply it to data describing medication use among a nationally representative sample of older Americans, collected in 1996. Their study represents an update of studies based on data from 19875 and 1992.6 Extrapolating from their sample to the United States as a whole, Zhan et al1 estimate that 2.6% of the US population older than 65 years took 1 or more of 11 drugs that should never be used in this age group.

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