JOURNAL ARTICLE

Inappropriate prescribing in an acutely ill population of elderly patients as determined by Beers' Criteria

Paul F Gallagher, Pat J Barry, Cristin Ryan, Irene Hartigan, Denis O'Mahony
Age and Ageing 2008, 37 (1): 96-101
17933759

INTRODUCTION: Adverse drug events (ADEs) are associated with inappropriate prescribing (IP) and result in increased morbidity, mortality and resource utilisation. We used Beers' Criteria to determine the three-month prevalence of IP in a non-selected community-dwelling population of acutely ill older people requiring hospitalisation.

METHODS: A prospective, observational study of 597 consecutive acute admissions was performed. Diagnoses and concurrent medications were recorded before hospital physician intervention, and Beers' Criteria applied.

RESULTS: Mean patient age (SD) was 77 (7) years. Median number of medications was 5, range 0-13. IP occurred in 32% of patients (n = 191), with 24%, 6% and 2% taking 1, 2 and 3 inappropriate medications respectively. Patients taking >5 medications were 3.3 times more likely to receive an inappropriate medication than those taking < or =5 medications (OR 3.34: 95%, CI 2.37-4.79; P<0.001). Forty-nine per cent of patients with inappropriate prescriptions were admitted with adverse effects of the inappropriate medications. Sixteen per cent of all admissions were associated with such adverse effects.

CONCLUSION: IP is highly prevalent in acutely ill older patients and is associated with polypharmacy and hospitalisation. However, Beers' Criteria cannot be used as a gold standard as they do not comprehensively address all aspects of IP in older people.

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