As physicians, we attend to and care for the medical complaints of people who are 15 years and above. This includes:

What Is Polypharmacy?
  • Diagnosis and treatment of acute medical emergencies
  • Infectious diseases
  • Diagnosis, treatment and follow up of chronic medical conditions
  • Diagnosis, management and follow up of lifestyle disorders
  • Adult vaccination as a part of preventive medicine
  • Geriatric care

We also take care of people with multiple medical disorders, prioritizing the following:

  • Optimization of treatment for better compliance &
  • Regular follow-up

We co-ordinate with the super specialists as and when required for their timely intervention.

In this context, we would like to educate you regarding “polypharmacy”, which is increasingly seen now a days especially in the elderly population, emphasizing on what is polypharmacy, its consequences and the role of a physician in reducing it.

What Is Polypharmacy?

Polypharmacy is the increased use of drugs (more than what is required). While this is prevalent across all age groups, it is more prevalent among the elderly. There is no arbitrary number that defines polypharmacy, as few patients may suffer from multiple ailments requiring many medications.

With the advancement in healthcare, life expectancy has improved. Specialty and super specialty doctors too are more. The elderly typically suffer from more than one health condition and need to consult many specialists. Access to medication too has become a lot easier. As a result, different medication prescribed by various specialists together with patients trying to treat themselves with over-the-counter medication have resulted in polypharmacy which in simple terms means that the patient is consuming too many medicines.

What Are the Consequences of Polypharmacy?

  • With increasing age, there is a decline in the ability to breakdown and eliminate the drugs resulting in an increased incidence of adverse drug reaction
  • Drug interactions between the various prescribed drugs
  • Cognitive decline
  • Increased frequency of falls in the elderly
  • Poor adherence and compliance to drugs
  • Increasing health care costs

What Are the Roles a Physician Plays in Reducing the Burden of Polypharmacy?

Regular Follow-Up:

After a surgical procedure, the patient can consult a physician regularly. This allows the physician to keep track of the patient’s well-being and he can make sure the patient adheres to what the specialist has advised. The physician can also stop the medication that is no longer needed.

Knowledge of Patient’s Lifestyle & History:

Medication taken by a patient may need to be adjusted during events like family functions and festivals. Diwali is a time when more sweets are consumed; Ramadan on the other hand is a time of fasting. A physician who has knowledge of the patient’s health conditions can guide the patient on how to take care of his health during times like these. The patient too can get all his queries answered.

Avoiding Drug Duplication:

A patient consulting many specialists might be prescribed the same drug by more than one specialist. As a result, the patient could end up consuming extra drugs. This can be handled by a physician who by coordinating between various specialties and doing a drug review could avoid such a situation.

Dr. Y. Dayanandan

Dr. Y. Dayanandan
Consultant – General Medicine
Kauvery Hospital Chennai


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