Prescription medicine can be a lifesaver when taken as directed. But patient medication error is increasingly causing many seniors to suffer serious health complications that might result in tremendous financial costs, too.
The American Heart Association warns that many people do not realize the damage that can result from not taking medicine as directed. For instance, if those with cardiovascular disease do not take their medications properly, failure to keep their blood pressure in check could lead to heart disease, stroke, or kidney failure. In some cases, taking too much or too little medication could even result in death. According to Henry Ford Macomb Hospitals, 125,000 Americans with treatable ailments die each year because of a medication error.
Increased Financial Burden
In addition to the health risks of medication nonadherence, you could face significant financial costs. In fact, medication errors account for a quarter of all nursing home admissions, according to Henry Ford Macomb, while failure to take medicine properly is one of the primary reasons for hospital readmission within 30 days of a patient’s previous stay. Yet seniors, who often live on a fixed income, can’t afford to run up steep medical bills, whether they’re for hospitalization, nursing home stays, or long-term care.
While Medicare generally covers the majority of hospital bills, only the first 20 days in rehabilitation units or skilled nursing facilities are fully covered if you transfer directly from a hospital after a three-night stay. This is increasingly rare as hospitals receiver lower Medicare reimbursement rates, however. Otherwise, you’re expected to pay all costs of rehabilitative and long-term care facilities, which average $150 or more per day. If you do qualify for 20 days of Medicare coverage but need to stay longer, you’re expected to pay $157.50 in coinsurance for up to 100 days and cover all costs after that.
Prevention Through Medication Dispensers
THA Group, a home healthcare provider, reports that a third of seniors 55 to 85 years old take at least five prescription medications per day, and that those with chronic illnesses may even take 20 pills a day or more. Many prescriptions are written so that the medication should be taken more than once during the day, but having to take a pill two or three times within a single day can be difficult to remember, especially as you grow older.
To lessen the health and financial risks of medication errors, older adults living at home are turning to electronic medication dispensing devices which provide auto reminders to dispense pre-sorted medications at pre-scheduled times.
Given the potentially serious consequences of making a medication error, taking advantage of a medication dispensing service could well be a lifesaver for seniors who don’t want prescription medication schedules to get in the way of living a healthy, independent life.