Pegasus Polypharmacy in the Elderly Education

Marie Burke, Clinical Facilitator and  Andrea Copeland, Clinical Quality and Education Team Leader, from Pegasus Health, Canterbury presented their multidisciplinary small group education package on “Polypharmacy in the Elderly”.

Over 70 doctors, pharmacists and nurses attended the session. The evaluation showed 80% of the attendees rated the meeting as useful, 76% thought the small workshop would be an effective model of learning and 51% were already part of a peer group.

The evening consisted of Pegasus pre-reading resources, local analytical data and case study reviews. Although the small group discussion was difficult with such a large group, when asked what had been learnt from the evening, the comments included:

  • In elderly patients medicines regime should be as simple as possible.
  • I need to regularly review my older patients on several meds, set recall dates for the end of a trial of medication, put aside consultations purely for medication review, communicate more clearly with pharmacists about medication changes and review dates, consider drug side effects alongside or before other causes of new presenting symptoms.
  • How a better multi-disciplinary model actually works in real life and that it can be done. I also learned more about what other clinicians were hearing back from elderly patients about their meds and how it echoed what I hear. That you may actually extend life by removing meds (so quantity - not just quality).

RCGPNZ policy brief: problematic polypharmacy and deprescribing