In dementia, care from multiple health systems poses drug safety risks

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By Lisa Rapaport

Dementia patients who get prescriptions from multiple health systems may face a higher risk of drug mix-ups or unsafe interactions than people with cognitive problems who get all their medications from one place, a study of U.S. veterans suggests.

Researchers examined data on more than 75,000 veterans with dementia and found that among patients who received all of their care at Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) facilities, 39 percent had potential safety issues with prescribed medications.

Among those who got some care at the VA and some treatment elsewhere, however, 59 percent had possible drug safety issues, the study found.

“Generally speaking, older adults are at greater risk of having adverse drug events,” said lead study author Joshua Thorpe, a researcher at the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System. “These risks are exacerbated in persons with dementia.”

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