Elderly patient missing out on vital medicine checks

At least four in ten older patients failed to receive an annual medicines use review at their GP surgery in 2019, leaving them at increased risk of falls or hospitalisation.

At least 10 per cent of hospital admissions of frail older people are directly attributable to mismanagement of medicine. NHS guidance, first introduced in October 2017, dictates that GPs in England should be routinely identifying frail older people, and those with ‘severe frailty’ should be given an annual medicines review.

The Pharmaceutical Journal analysed NHS Digital data and found that 59 per cent of patients identified as being with ‘severe frailty’ received an annual medicines review at their GP surgery in 2018/2019, leaving 74,534 patients with ‘severe frailty’ without a review. Additionally, almost 350 GP practices did not assess a single elderly patient in 2018-19.

Nigel Praities, the editor of Pharmaceutical Journal, said: “Medicines reviews are a crucial part of managing frail patients. Tens of thousands of severely frail older people are likely to be missing out on vital medicines checks by their GPs, even though studies show that this group of patients are a significant cause of NHS spend and even a short hospital admission can increase the risk of death.”

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