Do geriatric conditions increase risk of adverse drug reactions in ambulatory elders? Results from the VA GEM Drug Study.
BACKGROUND: Many clinicians prescribe cautiously to older adults with common geriatric conditions for fear of causing adverse drug reactions (ADRs). However, little is known about the association between these conditions and risk of ADRs. METHODS: Using data from the VA Geriatric Evaluation and Management Drug Study, we determined any, preventable, and serious ADRs in 808 elders for 12 months after hospital discharge using a validated process involving patient self-report and chart review adjudicated by two health care professionals. Eight common geriatric conditions (activities of daily living, dementia, incontinence, falls, difficulty ambulating, malnourishment, depression, and prolonged bed rest) were evaluated at study baseline through self-report and structured assessments. We used Poisson regression to model the relationship between these geriatric conditions and ADRs. RESULTS: Participants had a mean of 2.9 ± 1.2 geriatric conditions. Over the 12-month follow-up period, 497 ADRs occurred in 269 participants, including 187 ADRs considered preventable and 127 considered severe. On multivariable analyses, participants with dependency in one or more activities of daily living were less likely to suffer ADRs than those who were fully independent (incidence rate ratio: 0.78, 95% confidence interval = 0.62-1.00). None of the other seven geriatric conditions assessed were associated with ADR risk. Results were similar for preventable and serious ADRs, although participants with a history of falls were more likely to develop serious ADRs (incidence rate ratio: 1.49, 95% confidence interval = 1.00-2.21). CONCLUSIONS: Many geriatric conditions were not associated with risk of ADRs. Although it is prudent to prescribe judiciously in patients with these conditions, excessive caution may not be warranted.
Steinman, MA; Hanlon, JT; Sloane, RJ; Boscardin, WJ; Schmader, KE
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