Adverse Drug Reactions in the Elderly

Can We Stem the Tide?

Shari J. Lynn


Am Nurs Journal. 2012;7(1) 

In This Article

Obtaining Medication History From an Older Adult

When obtaining the history of an older patient, be sure to record the names, dosage, and reasons for all current medications. Ask about possible or suspected ADRs the patient has experienced; find out when the ADR occurred relative to drug therapy, and explore for other possible explanations. Report appropriate information to the MedWatch program as soon as possible.

Also consider whether the patient has a chronic hepatic or renal disorder, and keep in mind the patient's nutritional status. Poor nutrition may cause low albumin levels, which can affect the actions of protein-bound drugs. Be aware that the elderly are more sensitive to drugs affecting the neurologic and cardiovascular systems. Also, drug half-life may increase significantly in elderly patients due to physiologic and disease-process changes; as a result, drugs may accumulate in the body and cause toxicity.

As the population ages, medication use will continue to be a vital component of health care. Proper reporting and investigation of ADRs by nurses and other healthcare providers can help save thousands of lives.


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