Study: Three drugs lead to elderly hospitalizations

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Three drugs should carry the following label: take with caution. Side effects from warfarin, insulin and digoxin cause one-third of all U.S. emergency room visits by seniors, a new study found.

Together, the three drugs were responsible for about 58,000 emergency room visits a year in those 65 and older in 2004 and 2005, according to researchers. Warfarin, also known as Coumadin, is a blood thinner; insulin is used by diabetics; and digoxin is a heart drug. The study findings are published in the Dec. 4 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Researchers examined the effects of 41 drugs on the list of medications considered inappropriate for the elderly. But these drugs accounted for just 3.6% of a total of about 177,000 annual emergency room visits.