Background The accumulation of drugs can cause errors in taking the medicines and an unnecessary increase in health expenditure.
Purpose To quantify the accumulation of drugs in the home medicines cabinets of polymedicated patients aged over 64 and to assess the associated factors.
Materials and methods Cross-sectional study of polymedicated patients (≥6 medicines in their usual treatment) over the age of 64 admitted to the internal medicine ward in the period from March to July 2011. The authors reviewed the electronic medical record prior to admission, hospital discharge reports and active treatment. Furthermore, The authors interviewed the patient, family and/or care giver to confirm their chronic treatment as well as reviewing the contents of the medicines cabinet in a home visit. The authors considered the patient was accumulating medicines when The authors found either more than one container of at least 3 different drugs or more than 3 containers of the same drug.
Results Of the 52 patients enrolled in the current study, 48.1% accumulated medicines in the home medicines cabinet. Of these, 28.0% accumulated between 3 and 6 drugs, 8.0% between 7 and 9 drugs, 36.0% between 10 and 14 drugs and 28.0% were stockpiling over 14 drugs. In a deeper analysis of the factors that could affect drug accumulation, it was observed that 53.8% of women stockpiled medicines at home compared to 42.3% of men. Distribution by age of those who stockpiled medicines was 30% of 65–70 year-olds, 50.0% of 71–75 year-olds, 41.7% of 76–80 year-olds, 81.8% of 81–85 year-olds and 20.0% in the population aged over 85.
▶ Almost half of the polymedicated patients together accumulated over 64 medicines in their home medicines cabinets.
▶ Females had a greater tendency to do this.
▶ There was a trend to patients stockpiling drugs in line with their age. However, accumulation peaked at 81–85 years old.
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