1.1 Million Elderly Taken to ED for Adverse Medication Reactions

April 18, 2011
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The Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) is a public health surveillance system that monitors drug-related emergenc

The Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) is a public health surveillance system that monitors drug-related emergency department (ED) visits in the United States. Their latest report in February focused on Emergency Department visits that involve adverse reactions to medications among older adults in 2008.
  • In 2008, an estimated 1.1 million emergency department (ED) visits were made by adults aged 50 or older for adverse reactions to medications; more than half by those 65+.
  • Central nervous system (CNS) drugs (e.g., pain relievers and drugs used to treat anxiety and insomnia) were involved in almost one fourth (24.3 percent) of ED visits.
  • Nearly two thirds of older adults were treated and released (64.2 percent), and nearly one third were admitted to the hospital (32.9 percent).
You can help prevent drug-drug interactions by:
  • informing physicians, nurses, and mental health care providers of all medications, supplements, and vitamins you take. 
  • Make sure that any medical records are shared with all physicians, including specialists. 
  • Use one pharmacy to handle all their prescriptions. 
  • Advise your pharmacy of any adverse reactions to prescription or OTC medications.
Caregivers need to be knowledgeable about the potential side effects of both prescription and over-the-counter medications and be aware of any past history of adverse reactions to particular pharmaceuticals and medications.