Inappropriate prescriptions for the aging population of the United States: an analysis of the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey, 1997




Generally, elderly patients in the United States tend to consume more prescriptions than younger adults. The purpose of the study is to examine nationwide prescription patterns for elderly patients who visited physicians' offices in 1997.


The database of a nationwide sample survey of practicing physicians participating in the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey, 1997 was used. Inappropriate medicines for the elderly were identified using previously published and widely accepted criteria.


During 1997, patients aged 65 years or older made more than 191 million visits to physicians' offices in the United States. Four or more prescriptions per visit were issued with the following frequencies: 17.7% for females; 16.4% for males; 17.0% for Whites, 22.7% for Blacks, and 6.1% for other minorities including American Asians, Indians, Eskimos, Aleuts and Pacific Islanders. The frequencies with which at least one inappropriate medication per visit was prescribed were: 10.8% for females; 8.9% for males; 10.3% for Whites; 9.7% for Blacks; and 1.9% for other minorities.


Four or more prescriptions issued per visit and inappropriate prescriptions for the elderly in the United States were evident, and may put a vulnerable aging population at risk of adverse drug events. Copyright © 2002 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.