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Friday, October 18, 2013

Huge Differences by Region in Prescribing to Elderly, Study Finds

Researchers find that a higher proportion of seniors are prescribed antidepressants, dementia drugs and other medications in some parts of the country than others. Click to explore the researchers' findings.

Elderly Americans are prescribed medications in inexplicably different ways depending on where they live,according to a new report from Dartmouth researchers.

Th emostdepressed older patients—or at least the ones being medicated -- live in parts of Louisiana and Florida. There’s a cluster with dementia around Miami. And the seniors who have the most trouble sleeping? They live, perhaps unsurprisingly, in Manhattan.

The study by the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice examined geographic variations in the drugs elderly Medicare patients received in 2010. Researchers mapped where patients got medications they clearly needed and where they got drugs deemed risky for the elderly. They also looked at difference sin the use of so-called discretionary drugs, which they say are   but of uncertain benefits.

The report’s findings underscore those of a ProPublica investigation in May, which found that some doctors who treat Medicare patients often prescribe drugs that are dangerous or inappropriate for certain patients. ProPublica also found that the federal officials who run Medicare have done little to scrutinize prescribing patterns in their drug program,known as Part D, or question doctors whose practices differ from their peers.
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