Higher drug error rate grips seniors, Medco analysis finds

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Older patients experience a drug error rate nearly seven times greater than younger patients, according to a recent analysis by a prescription drug manager.

Researchers analyzed Medco Health Solutions' drug insurance claims from 2.4 million adults in 2004. Patients over 65 were at the greatest risk of prescribing errors, they found. Older patients who were treated by more doctors and prescribed more drugs had a higher error rate.

Seniors treated by two doctors received an average of 27 prescriptions per year and were at risk of 10 errors on average, researchers found. Those treated by five doctors received an average of 42 prescriptions per year and were at risk of 16 errors.