Online tool helps reduce number of meds prescribed to elderly patients: Montreal study

This July 6, 2017 file photo shows prescription drugs in a glass flask at the state crime lab in Taylorsville, Utah. A report released on Wednesday, March 13, 2019 says pills can contain ingredients like gluten, lactose or allergy-triggering dyes that may cause problems for certain patients. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)

MONTREAL -- Elderly patients might be able to take fewer medications thanks to software studied by Montreal researchers.

About 40 per cent of seniors take five or more medications – but all those medications come with the risk of complications from drug interactions.

A new electronic support tool for doctors and pharmacists, though, has been shown to reduce medication in most elderly patients, a new study shows.

The MedSafer tool helps doctors and pharmacists quickly review the drugs a hospitalized senior is taking and cross-reference the multiple medications and conditions.

A study by a team from the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI-MUHC) and was published in September in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

The study tested more than 1,000 hospitalized patients 65 and older who were taking five or more usual medications at the time of admission; 82 per cent had at least one potentially inappropriate or harmful medication. After a month, 410 patients who stopped using the problematic medication found no increase in adverse effects.

MedSafer is set to be adopted in New Brunswick’s long-term-care units and in several facilities in Ontario, according to the MUHC. A larger study is also taking place with 6,000 patients in 11 hospitals across Canada.