At a time when overall prescription drug use is climbing across the board, the AHRQ reports that the number of medication- and drug-related hospital visits for Americans over the age of 45 doubled between 1997 and 2008. Abuse is also on the rise in that age group, and the cost burden for the increase has fallen heavily upon Medicare and Medicaid. The numbers come from the AHRQ’s Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project, a wonderfully deep well of cost-related statistics from 2008.
A few numbers from the release:
Hospital admissions among those 45 years and older were driven by growth in discharges for three types of medication and drug-related conditions – drug-induced delirium; “poisoning” or overdose by codeine, meperidine and other opiate-based pain medicines; and withdrawal from narcotic or non-narcotic drugs.
Admissions for all medication and drug-related conditions grew by 117 percent – from 30,100 to 65,400 – for 45- to 64-year-olds between 1997 and 2008. The rate of admissions for people ages 65 to 84 closely followed, growing by 96 percent, and for people ages 85 and older, the rate grew by 87 percent. By comparison, the number of hospital admissions for these conditions among adults ages 18 to 44 declined slightly by 11 percent.
Beyond the headline-making news involving drugs, AHRQ’s report includes data on other types of medical conditions treated in hospitals, surgical procedures and costs in 2008.