Lead author Mary Jo Pugh of the South Texas Veterans Health Care System in San Antonio and colleagues used Veterans Administration pharmacy and patient care records to identify instances of inappropriate prescribing among 850,154 patients who received care at 124 VA facilities from 1999 to 2000.
The results, published in the journal Medical Care, found 26.2 percent of elderly patients were given drugs identified as inappropriate or suboptimal for older patients. However, veterans who had received geriatric care in the previous year proved less likely to receive inappropriate prescriptions -- compared to similar patients who hadn't received geriatric care. In the study, 3 percent of patients received geriatric care in the previous year.
"Patients who received care from a geriatrician tend to have better prescribing and they tend not to receive drugs that are inappropriate for older patients,"Pugh said in a statement. "Geriatricians are trained to "take a much closer look at the medications than the average physician does and their assessment is focused on how medications may affect patients differently as they age."