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Know Your Meds – How to Avoid Over Medication

By Harry S. Margolis

I recently heard Circle of Life Partners founder Janet Simpson Benvenuti speak about elder care issues. Among her many terrific insights and recommendations was to use an on line tool, to avoid over medication. Jan told the story of one of her clients who was taking 23 prescription drugs every day, many counter-productive or even harmful when taken together.

Often seniors visit different specialists for different medical issues — cardiologists, neurologists, orthopedists, gastroenterologists — each prescribing medications to treat the condition within their bailiwick, with no one looking at the patient as a whole or knowing what other medications the patient may be taking.

According to KnowMyMeds, approximately 530,000 drug-related injuries occur to Medicare patients every year and one in 25 older adults — 2.2 million — take drug combinations that can produce harmful results.

KnowMyMeds permits patients or their families to develop a list of both prescription and non-prescriptions medications which they can share with doctors and pharmacists. It provides some information about the medications and their potential interactions itself.

Jan Benvenuti, who is the author of Don’t Give Up on Me emphasized in her talk that pharmacists can be a great resource for patients and their families if they are presented a complete list of the medications being taken. While we often think of pharmacies just as places to fill prescriptions, pharmacists are experts who can be a great resource.

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