Senior citizens have been found to often leave hospital care without prescriptions for the medicines they were getting for their illness. This can prove to be deadly in the long run a new data analysis states. The drugs included cholesterol-lowering statins, blood thinners, and asthma inhalers. Many seniors are on multiple drugs and simply may not notice that a prescription hasn’t been renewed after they leave the hospital.

Chaim Bell, of St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, Canada explains:

“These are people that have been identified to have a disease and have been appropriately treated with evidence-based treatment for that disease. So these are success stories. After hospitalizations they are no longer on these medications, and that’s a shame.”

For the blood thinners, which include aspirin, as many as 19% of the seniors who had been hospitalized failed to get a renewed prescription within three months, and for the other medications, the difference was less but still relevant, especially for those patients who landed in the intensive care unit.

The research also found that patients who discontinued statins and blood thinners, both of which are often used to treat heart disease, had a slightly higher risk of dying or landing in the emergency room over the next year.

Other medical professionals note that landing in the hospital can be a good chance to adjust people’s drugs and help them change their lifestyle.

Jeremy Kahn and Derek Angus of the University of Pittsburgh added:

“However, transitions of care are also a threat, especially for patients with chronic diseases and complex treatment regimens. Either because of miscommunication or simple error, patients may experience unwarranted changes in treatment with potentially deleterious effects on their health.”

Aside, an analysis of prescription drug alerts conducted by Medco Health Solutions, Inc., found that the greater the number of physicians seen by a patient over age 65, the greater the number of prescriptions the patient fills, and thus the greater the risk for dangerous drug errors including drug-to-drug interactions; under or over utilization of a drug; duplication of therapies; and incorrect dosages.

The findings call into question how well different doctors and specialists caring for patients over 65 exchange information about the medications they are prescribing, and statistically, it correlates a larger care team with a greater risk for preventable medication errors.

The study found that seniors receiving prescriptions from two different physicians filled an average of 27 prescriptions in a year and were at risk for 10 potential prescription drug errors. However, when the care team consisted of five doctors, the number of prescriptions filled in one year jumped to 42, and the number of potential drug errors jumped to 16. This amounts to a 60% increase.

In the study, Chaim Bell of St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, Canada, and his colleagues examined medical records of up to 400,000 elderly people in Ontario to find out how regular they left the hospital after staying there and shockingly, not even renewing their prescriptions for `five long-term medications’.

Written by Sy Kraft