Medication Facts

Know the Facts about Medication Mismanagement

Millions of Americans suffer the threat of medication mismanagement every day. In fact, if medication mismanagement were classified as a disease, it would rank as the fifth leading cause of death in America.

The ultimate tragedy is that the vast majority of these deaths can be easily prevented. Therefore, in addition to being the fifth leading cause of death, medication mismanagement is also America’s number one cause of preventable deaths.

Consider these alarming statistics about medication mismanagement:

Adverse Drug Reactions

  • At least 1.5 million Americans experience adverse drug events (ADE) annually, according to the Institute of Medicine (IOM).
  • 23% of nursing home admissions are due to patients failing to take prescription medications accurately. (American Heart Association)
  • “Errors in managing prescription drugs results in 28% of hospital admissions.”  (The New York Times)
  • Adverse drug events cause over 700,000 emergency department visits each year and nearly 120,000 of those patients are hospitalized for further treatment, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (
  • In the elderly, 40% of all hospital admissions are due to medication related problems. (National Council on Patient Information and Education, Prescription Medication Compliance: A Review of the Baseline of Knowledge, 1995)

Juggling Multiple Meds Is Especially Dangerous

  • 85% of people 65 and older on three or more medications are mismanaging their prescriptions. When you increase that number to five or more, the amount of people who don’t take the correct medication climbs to nearly 100%. (Wertheimer, Albert I. “Medication Compliance: Still Far to Go,” The Journal of Applied Research.)
  • Most elderly people take 17-24 prescriptions a year … according to studies, 58% of the elderly population make errors when taking medicine. (American Association for Retired Persons)
  • Among those using five or more medications, 63 percent say they forget doses — a higher rate as compared to 51 percent among people who take fewer medicines. (
  • Regardless of age group, up to 59% of those on five or more medications per day are taking them improperly. (American Heart Association)
  • Close to 32 million Americans’ are prescribed three or more medications, which can lead to drug interactions and confusion over schedule and dosages. (Pharmacist Society Professionals)

The High Cost of Medication Mismanagement

  • Over 300 billion dollars per year are spent as a result of medication mismanagement complications. (Source:
  • 10% of Medicare elderly skip medication because of cost (

Many Patients Just Don’t Follow Doctor’s Orders

  • Only half (50%) of people typically follow their doctor’s orders when it comes to taking their prescription drugs. (World Health Organization, 2003)
  • Medication mismanagement is the number one reason why older people can no longer live on their own. (AARP)
  • 60% of all patients cannot identify their own medications. (Wertheimer, Albert I. “Medication Compliance: Still Far to Go,” The Journal of Applied Research.)
  • 30% to 50% of all patients ignore or otherwise compromise instructions concerning their medication. (Wertheimer, Albert I. “Medication Compliance: Still Far to Go,” The Journal of Applied Research.)