Closer collaboration between pharmacists and physiotherapists may improve care for elderly people who suffer falls, researchers have concluded.
The investigators, at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust in London, UK, found that many older patients who have fallen could benefit from having their medicines reviewed to identify any that may make them unsteady on their feet.
During the study, patients seen by physiotherapists after a fall, or who were at risk of falling, were automatically referred to the pharmacy team to assess the drugs they were taking.
Although 87% were taking one or more drugs that were associated with falls, these tended to be antihypertensives, diuretics and antidepressants, where the clinical benefit is weighed against the risk.
However, of the people who had previously suffered a fracture, just over half received bone protection drugs, and only around 70% were prescribed vitamin D, which helps maintain muscle function.
Pharmacist Alice Oborne, who led the research, said: “Pharmacists and physiotherapists traditionally work independently but this is a novel approach to capturing patients who fall and would benefit from medication review.
“Sometimes, prescribing of drugs is a risk-vs-benefit decision, and in this case the clinical benefits of drugs must be weighed against whether they would significantly increase the patient’s risk of falling.
“Pharmacists have a vital role to play in the relationship between drugs and falls prevention,” she said.
“Working closely with physiotherapy to offer patients a seamless service allows us to identify prescribing issues which might otherwise be missed and evidence-based multifactorial falls interventions like these can reduce patients’ chances of falling again.”
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