Sometimes less is more for patients with multiple prescriptions

In some circumstances, stopping a prescription can do more to help a patient than writing a new one or refilling an existing one, according to an article in MedPage Today.

Geriatric patients frequently find themselves taking a wide array of medications, which can present enough of a danger to their health that Amit Shah, M.D., of the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Arizona, says "I have cured more disease by stopping medications than starting them."

Doctors have a tendency to focus on fixing or reversing the symptoms that make a patient ill, according to Shah, who spoke at the American College of Physicians annual meeting. By stepping back and looking at the patient's health and wellness more holistically, physicians may find that taking medications away can be equally, if not more effective. For productive reduction of polypharmacy,  Shah offered attendees  a comprehensive set of suggestions. Here are some highlights, according to the MedPage Today report:

  • Talk to patients to get a full accounting of the medications they take, including nutrient supplements, alternative or over-the-counter medications which might not show up on medical records.
  • Reassess all the medications a patient takes, looking for potential duplicate therapies, as well as potential side effects or interactions.
  • Keep an eye out for situations where the condition that triggered an existing prescription no longer exists, or no longer requires that particular treatment. 
  • Work with patients to ensure their prescriptions are practical and in their best interest. For example, Shah suggests patients might be amenable to nonpharmacological treatment, or that their age or condition may make it unlikely they would live long enough to benefit from a drug.

To learn more:
- read the article