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Drive launched to teach seniors about medication

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- An integrated drive has been launched to teach elderly citizens the correct way to take medicine to avoid side effects and wasting medical resources, the Taiwan Health Care Reform Foundation said yesterday.

A total of 455 health-care related facilities, including 17 university hospitals, 43 regional hospitals, 53 community hospitals, 54 sanitation offices and outpatient service centers, and 288 drug stores, have joined the foundation's campaign as of Oct. 2, and have jointly created a Web site dedicated to the effort, a foundation spokesman said.

These health-care enterprises, which are voluntarily participating in the campaign, will teach elderly patients how to take medicine and will offer free consultations on the Web site — www.thrf.org.tw/elder/, he added.

Citing information provided by the Taipei Veterans General Hospital, the spokesman said one elderly patient was found to have taken in one month more than 200 pills that were prescribed by several different departments of the same hospital.

According to the hospital, senior patients have an average of 1.3 to 1.8 chronic diseases and may have to take more than 10 tablets daily as prescribed by various doctors, if the patients attend 1.65 to 3.31 clinics a day on average.

The foundation also cited the case of a 75-year-old man who was taking more than 10 different kinds of medication a day, which were prescribed by doctors from different hospital departments to treat his benign prostatic hiperplasia, constipation and insomnia. However, that led to him having excessive doses of tranquilizers, the foundation added.

As this is a common scenario among elderly patients, the Bureau of National Health Insurance has been encouraging hospitals to open special outpatient clinics as a one-stop service for elderly people with multiple chronic diseases.

Some local governments, such as Taipei County,have been collaborating with local pharmacist associations to set up a home visit service for senior patients, which would include keeping track of medication use and dosage.

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