Summary

Physicians should exercise caution when prescribing drugs for pediatric and geriatric patients. This is virtually axiomatic in premature infants, whose severely restricted ability to metabolize drugs is well documented. Caution also must be exerted in prescribing for the elderly population, since these individuals may be taking 10 to 15 different drugs daily. Problems associated with drug interaction and declining physiological function are very real. It is simply inadequate to administer drugs to very young and very old patients strictly on a body mass basis. Dose adjustments often must be made empirically, depending upon the changing pharmacokinetic characteristics of the drug in question, the nature of the disease, and the physiological status of the major organs and tissues involved in drug absorption, distribution, metabolism, and excretion.

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