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Objectives: To determine rates of potentially inappropriate medication use in elderly persons in managed care plans in the United States in 2000-2001.

Design: Cross-sectional study using automated medication-dispensing data.

Setting: Ten geographically distributed health maintenance organizations (HMOs).

Participants. One hundred fifty-seven thousand five hundred seventeen members aged 65 years and older enrolled in one of the HMOs.

Measurements: Prevalence of use of 33 potentially inappropriate medications from January 1, 2000 through June 30, 2001.

Results: In 2000-2001, 28.8% (95% confidence interval=28.6-29.1) of elderly individuals received at least one of 33 potentially inappropriate medications. This rate ranged from 23.0% to 36.5% across the 10 HMOs. Approximately 5% of elderly patients received at least one of the 11 medications classified by an expert panel as "always avoid," 13% received at least one of the eight medications that would rarely be considered appropriate, and 17% received at least one of the 14 medications that have some indications but are often misused. Overall, rates of use of these medications were greater in women (32.4%) than in men (24.2%). At least 1% of elderly members received belladonna alkaloids (2.3%), dicyclomine (1.1%), or hyoscyamine (1.2%), each of which multiple expert panels have classified as always inappropriate in patients aged 65 years and older. Seven percent of elderly members received propoxyphene, an analgesic medication considered rarely appropriate in the elderly and a drug that has a long history of limited efficacy and potential for toxicity.

Conclusion: Recent rates of potentially inappropriate medication use by elderly HMO members were at least as great as in a 1996 national sample. This study highlights the need to understand more fully the rationale behind the continued use of these medications.

- "Potentially Inappropriate Medication Use by Elderly Persons in U.S. Health Maintenance Organizations, 2000-2001" Simon, Steven R.; Chan, K. Arnold; Soumerai, Stephen B.; Wagner, Anita K.; Andrade, Susan E.; Feldstein, Adrianne C.; Lafata, Jennifer Elston; Davis, Robert L.; and Gurwitz, Jerry H. (February, 2005), Journal of the American Geriatrics Society http://www.blackwellpublishing.com/journal.asp?ref=0002-8614, Volume 53, Issue 2, Pages 227-232. doi: 0.1111/j.1532-5415.2005.53107.x http://www.blackwell-synergy.com/links/doi/10.1111/j.1532-5415.2005.53107.x/abs/

This work was supported by a cooperative agreement (U18 HS 11843) from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality http://www.larryblakeley.com/Articles/monthly_articles/healthcare_research_quality_agency.htm. The contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. This work was presented in abstract form at the HMO Research Network Conference, March 2003, Denver, Colorado.