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Polypharmacy: What Healthcare Professionals Need to Know

presented by Demetra Antimisiaris PharmD, CGP, FASCP

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Disclosure Statement:

Financial— Demetra Antimisiaris receives compensation from MedBridge for the production of this course. There are no other relevant financial relationships.

Satisfactory completion requirements: All disciplines must complete learning assessments to be awarded credit, no minimum score required unless otherwise specified within the course.

MedBridge is committed to accessibility for all of our subscribers. If you are in need of a disability-related accommodation, please contact [email protected]. We will process requests for reasonable accommodation and will provide reasonable accommodations where appropriate, in a prompt and efficient manner.

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Polypharmacy is a silent syndrome that often presents as functional and cognitive impairment, a new diagnosis, or treatment failure. Most health care providers recognize that polypharmacy is increasingly prevalent and have the understanding that it may be impairing optimal outcomes, yet, many health care providers feel powerless to manage and advocate for improved outcomes in patients living with polypharmacy, due to lack of formal training regarding this subject. This course introduces the learner to dynamics that lead to polypharmacy, basic principles to recognize common polypharmacy pitfalls, and systematic techniques to approach polypharmacy and empower the learner to improve multi-medication use outcomes. The target audiences for this course are nurses (RNs), advance practice nurses (APRNs), therapists, and social workers.

Meet Your Instructor

Demetra Antimisiaris PharmD, CGP, FASCP

Demetra Antimisiaris (Dr. Dee) is the director of the University of Louisville's Frazier Polypharmacy and Medication Management Program. This program is dedicated to education, research, and outreach regarding polypharmacy. In addition to teaching Pharmacology to medical and dental students, Dr. Dee provides a weekly polypharmacy clinic and clinical consult service with the U of L…

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Chapters & Learning Objectives

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1. What is Polypharmacy?

Health care professionals know polypharmacy exists but have little exposure to the definitions and underlying causes of harmful polypharmacy. This causes them to just go along with the multi-medication list, feeling powerless to assess appropriateness. This chapter aims to heighten understanding and awareness of the numerous factors that contribute to polypharmacy, some root causes of inadvertent medication harm, and open the discussion on the importance and value of proactively addressing polypharmacy. This chapter offers the overall health system view of polypharmacy.

2. Patient Factors in Polypharmacy

Part of learning to manage polypharmacy successfully is having the ability to assess whether the efficacy, side effects, and outcomes you are witnessing at any given time are indeed a result of the medication list before you (in the chart or provided by the patient). Learners in this chapter will explore the various possible medication use behaviors that commonly impact outcomes, including patient preferences, patient motivation, access to medication use support, cognitive status and health care literacy, alteration of dosage forms, alteration of dose timing, and instructions.

3. Medication Appropriateness Assessment

In this chapter, the learner will be presented with assessment techniques that health care professionals can and should be skilled at performing to manage polypharmacy. We will look at appropriate dose assessment for individual patients, assessment of efficacy, side effects, and the impact of the patient’s medication use experience. Although most health care providers have little control over recommending or prescribing medication, we all can help ensure appropriate monitoring is carried out as missed monitoring is a major cause of adverse drug events. This section will go over techniques aimed at improving health care professionals’ polypharmacy management skills.

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