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March 27, 2006

Reconsidering Medication Appropriateness for Patients Late in Life

Arch Intern Med. 2006;166(6):605-609. doi:10.1001/archinte.166.6.605

Providing guideline-adherent care for many medical conditions increasingly means the addition of more medications to reach disease-specific targets.1 When might it be best to withhold or discontinue medications that are otherwise appropriate on the basis of guidelines? Receiving facsimiles from the pharmacy serving a local nursing home encouraging us to prescribe statins for residents there symbolizes the issues. Most of these patients had a limited life expectancy, were older than 90 years, or had advanced dementia. Similar situations occur in patients with functional impairments, frailty, or diseases like emphysema, congestive heart failure, or coronary artery disease in their advanced stages, for whom starting or continuing many recommended drugs does not seem the best way to optimize care.

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