Greater Number of Narcotic Analgesic Prescriptions for Osteoarthritis Is Associated with Falls and Fractures in Elderly Adults
OBJECTIVES: To evaluate the changes in types of medications prescribed for pain before and after withdrawal of certain selective cyclooxygenase 2 (COX-2) inhibitors in 2004 and to determine whether there was an association with fall events in elderly adults with a diagnosis of osteoarthritis (OA). DESIGN: A nested case-control design using electronic medical records compiled between 2001 and 2009. SETTING: Electronic medical records for care provided in an integrated health system in rural Pennsylvania over a 9-year period (2001-09), the midpoint of which rofecoxib and valdecoxib were pulled from the market. PARTICIPANTS: Thirteen thousand three hundred fifty-four individuals aged 65 to 89 with a diagnosis of OA. MEASUREMENTS: The incidence of falls and fractures was examined in relation to analgesics prescribed: narcotics, COX-2 inhibitors, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). The comparison sample of individuals who did not fall was matched 3:1 with those who fell according to age, sex, and comorbidity. RESULTS: Narcotic analgesic prescriptions were associated with a significantly greater risk of falls and fractures. The likelihood of experiencing a fall/fracture was higher in participants prescribed narcotic analgesics than those prescribed a COX-2 inhibitor (odds ratio (OR) = 3.3, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 2.5-4.3) or NSAID (OR = 4.1, 95% CI = 3.7-4.5). CONCLUSION: Use of narcotic analgesics is associated with risk of falls and fractures in elderly adults with OA, an observation that suggests that the current guidelines for the treatment of pain, which include first-line prescription of narcotics, should be reevaluated.
Available from: PubMed Central
- "P<0.001) or NSAID (OR 4.1, 95% CI 3.7–4.5; P<0.001).31 For older adult patients with chronic pain at higher risk for NSAID-related adverse effects, such as those who have gastrointestinal or cardiovascular disease, diabetes mellitus, or who are taking low-dose aspirin, narcotics are recommended instead.32 "
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Falls among the elderly are an issue internationally and a public health problem that brings substantial economic and quality-of-life burdens to individuals and society. Falls prevention is an important measure of nursing quality and patient safety. Numerous studies have evaluated the association of medication use with fall risk in elderly patients. However, an up-to-date review has not been available to summarize the multifaceted pharmaceutical concerns in the prevention of medication-related falls.
Materials and methods
Relevant literature was identified by performing searches in PubMed, Web of Science, and the Cochrane Library, covering the period until February 2014. We included studies that described an association between medications and falls, and effects of drug pharmacokinetic/pharmacodynamic properties, characteristics of medication use, and pharmacological interventions on fall risk in elderly patients. The full text of each included article was critically reviewed, and data interpretation was performed.
Fall-risk-increasing drugs (FRIDs) include central nervous system-acting agents, cough preparations, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, anti-Alzheimer’s agents, antiplatelet agents, calcium antagonists, diuretics, α-blockers, digoxin, hypoglycemic drugs, neurotoxic chemotherapeutic agents, nasal preparations, and antiglaucoma ophthalmic preparations. The degree of medication-related fall risk was dependent on one or some of the following factors: drug pharmacokinetic/pharmacodynamic properties (eg, elimination half-life, metabolic pathway, genetic polymorphism, risk rating of medications despite belonging to the same therapeutic class) and/or characteristics of medication use (eg, number of medications and drug–drug interactions, dose strength, duration of medication use and time since stopping, medication change, prescribing appropriateness, and medication adherence). Pharmacological interventions, including withdrawal of FRIDs, pharmacist-conducted clinical medication review, and computerized drug alerts, were effective in reducing fall risk.
Based on the literature review, clear practical recommendations for clinicians to prevent falls in the elderly included making a list of FRIDs, establishing a computerized alert system for when to e-prescribe FRIDs, seeking an alternative drug with lower fall risk, withdrawing FRIDs if clinically indicated, taking pertinent cautions when the use of FRIDs cannot be avoidable, paying attention to prescribing appropriateness, simplifying the medication regimen, strengthening pharmacist-conducted clinical medication review, ensuring the label of each FRID dispensed contains a corresponding warning sign, being careful when medication change occurs, enhancing medication adherence, and mandating for periodic reassessment of potential risk associated with the patient’s medication regimen. Further studies should be conducted in this area, such as investigating whether medication reconciliation and improving medication adherence could decrease the rate of falls.
Available from: onlinelibrary.wiley.com
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ABSTRACT: Potentially inappropriate medications (PIMs) continue to be prescribed and used as first-line treatment for the most vulnerable of older adults, despite evidence of poor outcomes from the use of PIMs in older adults. PIMs now form an integral part of policy and practice and are incorporated into several quality measures. The specific aim of this project was to update the previous Beers Criteria using a comprehensive, systematic review and grading of the evidence on drug-related problems and adverse drug events (ADEs) in older adults. This was accomplished through the support of The American Geriatrics Society (AGS) and the work of an interdisciplinary panel of 11 experts in geriatric care and pharmacotherapy who applied a modified Delphi method to the systematic review and grading to reach consensus on the updated 2012 AGS Beers Criteria. Fifty-three medications or medication classes encompass the final updated Criteria, which are divided into three categories: potentially inappropriate medications and classes to avoid in older adults, potentially inappropriate medications and classes to avoid in older adults with certain diseases and syndromes that the drugs listed can exacerbate, and finally medications to be used with caution in older adults. This update has much strength, including the use of an evidence-based approach using the Institute of Medicine standards and the development of a partnership to regularly update the Criteria. Thoughtful application of the Criteria will allow for (a) closer monitoring of drug use, (b) application of real-time e-prescribing and interventions to decrease ADEs in older adults, and (c) better patient outcomes.
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