The prescription pad is probably the most dangerous tool at a doctor's disposal. The legalized permission to prescribe drugs to alleviate pain and discomfort can often result in unintended consequences, especially in elderly patients.
"This is America's other drug problem," says Maristela Garcia, director of the inpatient geriatric unit at UCLA Medical Center in Santa Monica, California. "And the problem is huge" (The Washington Post, August 15, 2016). The elderly are simply taking too many pills, "raising their chances of dangerous drug interactions and serious side effects. Often the drugs are prescribed by different specialists who don't communicate with each other." When followed by several physicians, many elderly patients end up taking a dozen or more prescribed medications every day.