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Clinic guidelines could harm elderly

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BALTIMORE, Aug 09, 2005 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- A Johns Hopkins study suggests clinical practice guidelines might become potentially dangerous if applied to older patients with multiple conditions.

The problem, say researchers, is the guidelines may yield an overly complicated health regimen or potentially harmful drug interactions, since such guidelines rarely account for older patients with several coexisting illnesses.

"It is evident that these guidelines, designed largely by specialty-dominated committees for managing single diseases, provide clinicians little guidance about caring for older patients with multiple chronic diseases," said lead author Dr. Cynthia Boyd, an assistant professor of geriatric medicine and gerontology at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center.

"While some recommend interventions for specific pairs of diseases, they rarely give recommendations for treating patients with three or more chronic diseases -- a group that includes half of the population over age 65."

The study appears in The Journal of the American Medical Association.

Copyright 2005 by United Press International.

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