Adverse Drug Reactions in Seniors Leading to Increased Emergency Hospital Admissions

According to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine November 24, 2011, ” there were an estimated 99,628 emergency hospitalizations for adverse drug events in U.S. adults 65 years of age or older each year from 2007 through 2009.”

The data, collected from a National Electronic Injury Surveillance System project, indicated that “Nearly half of these hospitalizations were among adults 80 years of age or older.” About two-thirds of these admnissions came from unintentional overdoses, mainly from Warfarin/oral antiplatelet drugs or insulin/oral hypoglycemic drugs. Unlike what might seem intuitive, very few emergency hospitalizations came from supposed high-risk drugs.

The article concluded that “Improved management of antithrombotic and antidiabetic drugs has the potential to reduce hospitalizations for adverse drug events in older adults.” Still, even with the obvious need for doctors to be more alert, the motto of this blog, “Your health is too important to leave to the medical establishment,” implies that patients and their caregivers as well have a vital responsibility to play in daily drug use to avoid the added dangers of a hospital admission, particularly on an emergency basis.

Hospital Acquired Infections

The rate of infections acquired while in hospital in the U.S. is not inconsiderable. It may be better than in other areas of the world, although a recent study of a Kenyan hospital with excellent international support raised some eyebrows in the U.K, where the National Health Service has its own problems. Unfortunately, the study may presage developments here as the U.S. progresses towards a socialized health care system under ObamaCare. (See also “This Will Set the Stage” for historical U.S. statistics.)

According to a news report in Lancet, Volume 378, Issue 9808, Pages 1982-1983, December 10, 2011, “in 2004 there were about 300,000 hospital-acquired infections per year,” and in 2007, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and Clostridium difficile were recorded as a cause of, or contributory to, death on 9000 death certificates.” These problems are most evident in the very young or aged.

The referenced report describes a detailed study of hospital-acquired infections in children at the Kilifi District Hospital, Kenya, from 2002 to 2009, where the case mortaility rate in children from these bloodstream infections was 53 percent. Strikingly, this particular hospital receives considerable support from international organizations, implying that poorer hospitals are in even worse condition.

The question from this blogger is what will happen as the U.S. health care system decomposes and becomes more and more overburdened as has happened in the U.K. Drug shortages in the U.S. continue to grow, funding for Medicare may drop by 25 percent, the supply of new doctors, particularly in general practice, is projected to decrease. Will these trends under the government-controlled economy and social system that Obama wants echo results under socialized medicine in other countries in the past half-century?