Researchers at University College Cork, who looked at data from a number of publicly funding nursing homes in Munster, identified 329 instances of potentially inappropriate prescribing involving 187 patients.
The research, published in the journal Age and Ageing by Oxford University Press, found that 59.8% of patients had been prescribed a potentially inappropriate medicine.
Among those patients, 31.3% were prescribed one medicine that was inappropriate, 15% were prescribed two potentially inappropriate medicines and 10.2% were prescribed three.
Medicine for the central nervous system accounted for the highest proportion of potentially inappropriate prescribing identified.
A total of 313 patients were recruited for the study, undertaken by researchers at UCC’s School of Pharmacy and which involved the collection of data from seven publicly-funded nursing homes over a period of three weeks in 2008.
The study, entitled Potentially inappropriate prescribing in older residents in Irish nursing homes also identified 199 potential prescribing omissions in 132 patients.
The cardiovascular system accounted for most of the potential prescribing omissions identified.
Of these, the most common was the omission of a low-dose aspirin.
Dr Stephen Byrne at the School of Pharmacy, who led the research, said they found that medicines for the blood and blood forming organs accounted for 9.2% of the medicines prescribed in the study.
“We feel that this is an underestimation of the true requirements for these medicines, as anti-platelet agents and anticoagulants accounted for a third of the omissions identified,” Dr Byrne said.
“Our study shows that there is a need to consider measures of ensuring patients are not at risk of medication-related adverse events.”