Q. I am a physician. Often, we are afraid to stop medications because if something bad happens, we could be sued for causing Mom’s stroke, heart attack or death.
I love it when my patients stop their medications themselves or refuse to take more, because then I am safe from our culture of blame. Many of my geriatric patients are on far too many medications and would be better off without them. It takes enormous moral courage to do the right thing in our current litigious environment.
A. Older people often take a handful of pills every day. Some are prescribed to treat side effects from other medications. Far too many senior citizens may be overmedicated. In some cases this can lead to depression, confusion or a false diagnosis of dementia.
We discuss this dilemma and list drugs that are inappropriate for older people in our brand new book, Top Screwups Doctors Make and How to Avoid Them (Crown). We recognize that individual doctors are under tremendous time pressure and are doing the best they can for their patients. That said, it is critical for patients and their family members to be vigilant against overmedication and drug interactions that could be harmful.