Background: Potentially inappropriate medication (PIM) use is a major source of drug-related problems in the elderly. Few studies have quantified the effect of PIM use on total healthcare expenditures in the United States.
Objectives: : We sought to determine the relationship between PIM use and healthcare expenditure and to estimate the annual incremental healthcare expenditures related to PIM use in the community-dwelling elderly population in the United States in 2001.
Methods: This was a retrospective cohort study. Participants were age 65 years or older who had no PIM use in rounds 1 and 2 of the 2000-2001 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, a nationally representative survey of the US noninstitutionalized population. On the basis of the 2002 Beers criteria, PIM users were identified as those who had been prescribed at least one PIM during specified time periods in the study. Propensity scores were used to match PIM users and nonusers in the analysis examining differences in total healthcare expenditures.
Results: PIM utilization is a significant predictor for higher healthcare expenditures (P < 0.05). A conservative estimate of the incremental healthcare expenditures related to PIM use in the community-dwelling elderly population would be $7.2 billion (95% confidence interval, $3.4 billion-$15.7 billion) in the United States in 2001.
Conclusions: PIM use is a major patient safety concern that results in increased healthcare expenditures. This study emphasizes the need for continued provider education to inform prescribers of the potential risks of using certain medications in the elderly and to improve prescribing practices.