One in four Canadians over 65 currently taking more than 10 medications
WINCHESTER — Edda Lefebvre says she is feeling back in control, thanks to a new program at Winchester District Memorial Hospital. It’s called Deprescribing, but Edda likes to think of it as a complete reboot.
“I wasn’t feeling well and was taking a lot of medications. My health just spiralled,” she remembers. “The team in Winchester took the time to figure things out. In doing so, they gave me time to become whole again.”
Edda recently spent three weeks at WDMH, as part of the new deprescribing program. Patients are admitted to WDMH for a multidisciplinary assessment. The WDMH team connects with each patient’s family physician, specialists and pharmacies to review the medications and health status. From there, medication changes are made, patients receive restorative care and are monitored carefully. Other supports can also be put in place such as physiotherapy or social work services. The patient is then discharged, and the entire care team receives a full report outlining the new medication plan. A physician referral is required.
“We know that two out of three Canadians over the age of 65 take at least 5 different medications. And 1 in 4 take more than 10,” explains Dr. Ali Elbeddini, Manager of Pharmacy at WDMH. “WDMH’s new Deprescribing Program involves withdrawing, substituting or reducing a patient’s medications in a safe and supportive environment at WDMH.” Inappropriate prescribing and excess medications in older persons happen over time and are associated with increased risks of falls, adverse drug events, hospital admissions, and even death. Given these potential risks, it is imperative to find ways to manage the care of such patients.
“Everyone in Winchester has been so kind and accommodating, from the pharmacists to the cleaning staff to the physiotherapists” Edda says. “I was monitored carefully, and I believe I got well so quickly because of the care and attention I received.”
A recently-completed deprescribing pilot program at WDMH, involved 11 patients, each taking 10 or more medications shows the benefits of deprescribing. “The results were phenomenal. Forty-six medications were discontinued, 11 meds doses were reduced and 8 of the 46 medications were switched to a safer alternative. There was also an observed 59% reduction in the number of ER visits and hospitalizations post-deprescribing,” adds Dr. Mohamed Gazarin, Chief Research Officer at WDMH.
Edda Lefebvre is now back home with a detailed medication plan in hand. “I feel good and capable again,” she says. “And I’m so grateful to the team at Winchester Hospital.”