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Deprescribing

Last year I spent a couple of months working as a physician in a geriatric hospital, i.e. a hospital that specializes in taking care of elderly people. One thing that struck me particularly was the large number of medications each patient was on. I don’t think it would be much of an exaggeration to say that the average patient had ten or more medications that they were taking on a daily basis. This condition, of taking many different medications, is known as polypharmacy. It is a big problem. And a growing problem. In the US, 31% of older adults were taking 5 or more medications per year in 2006. Five years later, that number had increased to 36% . In a Swedish population study, 17% of adults were taking five or more drugs per day in 2006. This had increased to 19% in 2014. Among people over 90 years old, 80% were taking five or more drugs per day. But, you might say, surely they needed those drugs? After all, they were prescribed the drugs by a doctor for a reason. And older…