Polypharmacy in older people: A guide for healthcare professionals

24 April, 2023

Released by the All Wales Therapeutics and Toxicology Centre

The All Wales Therapeutics and Toxicology Centre have released a new guide in March 2023 on polypharmacy in older people. The guide is designed to help support medicines optimisation in older patients who may be subject to inappropriate polypharmacy.

Patients being prescribed higher number of medications has been associated with an increased risk of harm and is a strong predictor of hospitalisation due to adverse drug events.

Polypharmacy in older people is an issue that is this responsibility of everyone within a healthcare facility. Ashtons’ clinical pharmacists can work within your multidisciplinary teams to help promote appropriate optimisation.

The guide describes a four step approach to stopping medication in older people:

  1. Recognise the need to stop
  2. Reduce or stop one medicine at a time
  3. Consider if the medicine can be stopped abruptly or should be tapered
  4. Assess risk benefit after each medicine has been stopped

Practical guides on stopping specific groups of medications are also included, covering when to consider stopping, tapering guides and withdrawal effects.

You can access the full report here.