Tag Archives: medication

Expert panel highlights cognitive aging risk factors, prevention

Photo: Philippa Willitts via Flickr

Photo: Philippa Willitts via Flickr

Medications — including many over-the-counter drugs —  are among the greatest contributors to accelerated cognitive decline in older adults, according to experts at the recent Gerontological Society of America conference in Orlando, Fla. Yet, they are probably the most frequent reversible contributor to adverse cognitive events. Continue reading

New AARP report looks at onus on spousal caregivers

Image by Tammy Strobel via flickr.

Image by Tammy Strobel via flickr.

A new report from the The United Hospital Fund and AARP Public Policy Institute finds that spouses who act as the primary family caregiver routinely perform complex medical and nursing tasks without adequate in-home support from health care professionals, especially when compared with non-spousal family caregivers.

Eighty-four percent of spousal care recipients received no professional health care on site, compared to 65 percent of non-spousal care recipients. Nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of spouses who are caregivers perform many of the tasks that health care professionals do – such as medication management, wound care, using meters and monitors, compared to 42 percent of nonspousal caregivers.

Compounding the challenge, spouses were also less likely to receive help from family or friends or home care aides: 58 percent of the spouses reported no additional help from others, compared to 20 percent of nonspouses. Continue reading

How to cover nursing homes with more depth and data #ahcj13

It was worth the wait to attend one of the last sessions on the last day of Health Journalism 2013.

Data mining is one of those topics that can make the audience’s eyes glaze over, but the energy level in the room was high as the audience learned how two Boston Globe reporters used publicly accessible records to expose widespread overmedication of Massachusetts nursing home residents, resulting in a highly acclaimed front-page series.

Health reporter Kay Lazar led a panel which included her colleague, reporter Matt Carroll, and Patricia Fried, a consultant to lawyers investigating nursing home wrongdoing, subcontractor to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and experienced nursing home director.

Discovering the truth about nursing home residents’ quality of life can be challenging, Lazar said. However, once you understand what to look for and how to analyze the data, it unearths a wealth of information, and many potential story ideas. Much of the analysis conducted by Lazar and Carroll came from statements of deficiency (SOD) forms submitted to CMS by nursing home surveyors, also known as inspectors. Continue reading

Drug data could inform stories about elder care

The 2007 National Home and Hospice Care Survey (NHHCS ) Medication Public-Use File and Documentation are now available for downloading.pills

One group of researchers used earlier NHHCS data to “examine changes in hospice services over time, as they were collected during the period from 1992 to 2000, paralleling the period of substantial growth in hospice use and spending.”

With recent studies and news about the increase in use of antipsychotics in the elderly, this data might be useful in reporting such stories and documenting the increase, as well as stories about how treatments have changed.

The 2007 NHHCS Medication Public-Use Data File is supported by SAS, SPSS, and STATA input statements. The documentation includes three PDF files: technical notes, a data dictionary, and a PDF file that provides drug name codes, drug estimates and rates, and drug characteristics.

N.J. psychiatric hospital botches drugs, doses

Jean Mikle of the Asbury Park Press chronicled medication errors at Ancora Psychiatric Hospital, New Jersey’s largest such institution. Mikle pored over public records and found that while hospital officials say they are safer than average, “overdoses, adverse reactions to medicines, and wrong doses of powerful drugs have harmed dozens of patients at Ancora since 2006.”

Since December, two Ancora patients have been hospitalized because of “reactions to medications” they received inside the psychiatric hospital, according to Ellen Lovejoy, the spokeswoman for the state Department of Human Services.

Brick resident Derrick Raymond, 28, who has been a patient at Ancora several times since 2002, said he could easily have been given the wrong medication because, he said, patient files were frequently in disarray.

“I’ve had my files mixed with other people’s,” Raymond said. “I could have been given the wrong medication. You start to feel like a guinea pig for medications in there.”

Mikle found cases where patients were given the wrong medication, the wrong amount of medication, no medication when some was needed, expired medication and medication intended for other patients.