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Polypharmacy linked to higher hospitalisation

Residents taking nine or more medications have an 89 per cent higher risk of hospitalisation than those who take less than nine, the authors of a new study have said.

Conducted by Monash University researchers and staff from Resthaven, the study set out to investigate whether there was an association between taking nine or more regular medications and admission to hospital.

The research team looked at residents’ time to first hospitalisation, the number of hospitalisations, and the number of days spent in hospital over a 12-month period.

Tina Cooper, née Emery, executive manager of residential services at Resthaven, said the study has important implications for aged care and hospitals alike.

She said: “The research adds to the increasing body of evidence that suggests reducing the number of unnecessary or low-benefit medications, referred to as deprescribing, may be a valuable way to reduce unwanted, expensive hospital stays.”

The study’s authors said it is important for clinicians to be alert to the risk of hospitalisation among residents with polypharmacy or complex medication regimens and to consider whether interventions such as ongoing medication reviews may be beneficial.

Cooper said: “We have always advocated for frequent medication reviews, but this takes it to the next level. We now need to look at risk-benefit ratios for prescribing of long-term preventative medications in aged care.”

The research was funded via the Resthaven Incorporated Dementia Research Award through Alzheimer’s Australia Dementia Research Foundation.

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