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The Relationship Between Comprehensive Functional Assessment And Optimal Pharmacotherapy In The Older Patient

Norma J. Owens, Rebecca A. Silliman, Marsha D. Fretwell

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Older patients hospitalized for treatment of an acute medical illness will have improved outcomes when approached in a comprehensive fashion focusing on the physical, social, and emotional aspects of life. When used by an interdisciplinary team, comprehensive functional assessment can address social, biomedical, nutrition, continence, mobility, pharmacotherapy, and psychological issues to enhance patient care. Although the appropriate use of medications is often cited as an important part of medical care for the older person, it has not been defined for this group of patients. This article outlines steps pharmacists can take to achieve optimal pharmacotherapy in older patients. Prior to attending a team conference, the pharmacist should interview the patient and review the chart. During the team conference, a comprehensive patient database will be generated that allows medications to be linked to diagnoses. To aid in selecting appropriate medications, the potential for drug-induced functional impairment of mobility, continence, and mental state is reviewed. Recommendations for therapy and establishment of therapeutic endpoints will conclude the patient conference. The pharmacist can contribute much in the process of comprehensive functional assessment and to the goal of achieving optimal pharmacotherapy in older patients.