Making Sure Senior Oncology Patients Get the Right Meds

A senior’s medicine cabinet is often chock full of bottles ranging from supplements to medications and even oral cancer treatments. Making sure patients take the right pill at the right time, and that none of these therapies counteracts the other can be a major challenge especially when patients take upwards of 10 medicines at once.

Ginah Nightingale, PharmD, an assistant professor at the Jefferson School of Pharmacy spoke with Forbes.com about a recent study she conducted delving into this issue. Part of the difficulty is that doctors often rely on a patient’s ability to recall all of their medications during a doctor’s visit, which are often incomplete. It’s only when a pharmacist asked a patient to bring in all of the bottles in their medicine cabinet for review that the full complement of pills becomes apparent.

Pharmacists can also bridge a gap, providing medication-related education, and discussing possible side effects to look out for, said Dr. Nightingale. “A comprehensive medication review should include a thorough review of patients’ medications with subsequent discontinuation of any nonessential medications and evaluation for drug interactions, adverse effects and patient adherence,” Dr. Nightingale told Forbes.com. Her research is just the first step of a larger effort to understand how to improve medication and outcomes for seniors with cancer.

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