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Optimizing pharmacotherapy in elderly patients: the role of pharmacists

Authors Lee J, Alshehri S, Kutbi H, Martin J

Received 1 May 2015

Accepted for publication 10 July 2015

Published 11 August 2015 Volume 2015:4 Pages 101—111

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/IPRP.S70404

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 4

Editor who approved publication: Professor Jonathan Ling


Jeannie K Lee,1 Samah Alshehri,1,2 Hussam I Kutbi,1,2 Jennifer R Martin1,3

1Pharmacy Practice and Science, University of Arizona College of Pharmacy, Tucson, AZ, USA; 2Department of Clinical Pharmacy, King Abdulaziz University College of Pharmacy, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia; 3Arizona Health Sciences Library, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, USA

Abstract: As the world's population ages, global health care systems will face the burden of chronic diseases and polypharmacy use among older adults. The traditional tasks of medication dispensing and provision of basic education by pharmacists have evolved to active engagement in direct patient care and collaborative team-based care. The care of older patients is an especially fitting mission for pharmacists, since the key to geriatric care often lies with management of chronic diseases and polypharmacy use, and preventing harmful consequences of both. Because most chronic conditions are treated with medications, pharmacists, with their extensive training in pharmacotherapy and pharmacokinetics, are in a unique and critical position in the management of them. Pharmacists have the expertise to detect, resolve, and prevent medication errors and drug-related problems, such as overtreatment, undertreatment, adverse drug events, and nonadherence. Pharmacists are also competent in critically reviewing and applying clinical guidelines to the care of individual patients, and in some instances confront the lack of data (common in older adults) to provide the best possible patient-centered care. The current review aimed to depict the evidence of geriatric pharmacy care, demonstrate current impact of pharmacists’ interventions on older patients, survey the tools used by pharmacists to provide effective care, and explore their role in pharmacotherapy optimization in elders. The findings of the current review strongly support previous studies that showed positive impact of pharmacists’ interventions on older patients’ health-related outcomes. There is a clear role for pharmacists working directly or collaboratively to improve medication use and management in older populations. Therefore, in global health care systems, teams caring for elders should involve pharmacists to optimize pharmacotherapy.

Keywords: pharmacist, elderly, older adult, pharmacotherapy, medication, polypharmacy

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