Geriatric outpatients often take several medications. Some prescription medications may be wasted under certain circumstances. It is important to minimize this wastage to keep health care costs down.

Reasons a medication may be wasted:

(1) The condition being treated resolves before all of the medication is taken.

(2) The patient stops taking the medication because it appears to be ineffective.

(3) The patient stops taking the drug because of adverse effects.

(4) The patient is noncompliant.

(5) There is a change in the drug regimen, switching to another drug, dose or formulation.

(6) The medication outdates.

(7) The patient is hospitalized or dies.


Steps to reduce wastage:

(1) Do not overprescribe.

(2) Encourage and monitor compliance.

(3) Keep track of medications prescribed for the patient, including those prescribed by other physicians. Ask the patient to bring their medications in periodically for review.

(4) Consider the possibility of side effects when prescribing for a patient.

(5) Use drug samples to see if the patient can tolerate a medication.

(6) Instruct the patient on how to store and manage medications.

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