Feature Article

Deprescribing in older people: prioritising patient outcomes over polypharmacy

Deirdre T Criddle
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Deprescribing is the ‘new term’ in the medical lexicon, described as the process of withdrawal of an inappropriate medication, supervised by a healthcare professional with the goal of managing polypharmacy and improving outcomes. This article describes why medication management for many elderly patients should involve deprescribing and why this worthy yet complex task is best served as a patient-focused, GP-led, multidisciplinary and iterative process.

Key Points

  • GPs are best placed to lead deprescribing in older people, and decisions should reflect patient treatment goals and priorities.
  • Successful deprescribing is multidisciplinary and collaborative.
  • Pain management regimens after injury or surgery require review early and often.
  • Medications should be stopped or reduced one at a time and tapered gradually.
  • Good prescribing involves deprescribing and is an iterative process.

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