Every week Shefali S. Kulkarni selects interesting reading from around the Web.
ABC: New Study Highlights Dangers Of Over-Medicated Seniors
My father was a great doctor, a fine magician and a mean saxophone player. But around the time he turned 77 years old, he started slurring his words and spending long periods of time sitting and staring into space. I suspected he had begun a gradual slide into dementia. ... Then I happened to take a glance at his medicine cabinet. There were over 100 bottles of pills, in an astounding array of shapes, colors and sizes. ... I sorted the pills into more than a dozen unique prescriptions ordered by four separate doctors. Then I cross referenced each drug against all the others as well as with his various supplements and medical conditions. After that, I called his doctors and demanded they walk me through his entire drug regimen. In the end, I was able to trim his daily medication list in half, and within a few days my father came back to us. ... This is such a common occurrence that it even has a name: Polypharmia. That's the shorthand used to describe older patients who take more drugs than they actually need. Now a new study shows just how much of a problem it really is (Liz Neporent, 8/23).
Time: Is Your Doctor Burned Out?
Job burnout can strike workers in nearly any field, but a new study finds that doctors are at special risk. Nearly 1 in 2 U.S. physicians report at least one symptom of burnout, with doctors at the front line of care particularly vulnerable, the study found -- a significantly higher rate than among the general working population. Overtaxed doctors are not only at risk for personal problems, like relationship issues and alcohol misuse, but their job-related fatigue can also erode professionalism, compromise quality of care, increase medical errors and encourage early retirement -- a potentially critical problem as an aging population demands more medical care (Alexandra Sifferlin, 8/23).