A Healthesystems publication

Fall 2013

Polypharmacy: More drugs, More prescribers, More risk

While the exact definition of the number of concurrent medications may vary – typically greater than three to five – polypharmacy applies to situations where more medications than are clinically indicated are being prescribed, usually resulting in unnecessary drug use. Healthesystems has reported on the risks of polypharmacy for several years, and more information about this topic can be found in the RxInformer archives.

Workers’ compensation claimants are often prescribed complicated medication regimens that can lead to situations of polypharmacy.  When three or more medications are prescribed to an injured worker at the same time, often an attempt is being made to treat the side effects of other drugs. And when a complex drug therapy regimen involving opioids is involved, patients and payers are at even more risk for unintended consequences.

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