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Quality of prescribing in older people from a broad family physician perspective: a descriptive pilot study

Journal article
Authors Naldy Parodi López
Susanna Maria Wallerstedt
Published in BMJ Open
Volume 9
Issue 6
ISSN 2044-6055
Publication year 2019
Published at Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, Department of Pharmacology
Language en
Keywords stopp/start criteria, medication reviews, primary-care, indicators, prevalence, outcomes, list, General & Internal Medicine
Subject categories Pharmacology


Objectives To investigate the quality of drug treatment in older people from a broad family physician perspective, and to provide evidence for power calculations in full-scale studies on prescribing quality. Participants 123 consecutive patients, >= 65 years, with a non-urgent physician consultation in January 2016. Measures The drug treatment was assessed by a physician as either appropriate or suboptimal, taking individual factors like morbidity, life expectancy and concurrent drug treatment into account, and preceded by the application of 493 criteria from three screening tools for Potentially Inappropriate Medications (PIMs) and Potential Prescribing Omissions (PPOs). Suboptimal drug treatment was further categorised regarding priority: (1) immediate change suggested or (2) actions suggested in the longer term. Prevalence of the procedure code ` medication review' and the results thereof were also recorded. Results Median age: 76 years; 48% women. When a family physician perspective was applied, and 593 PIMs/ PPOs identified in 117 (95%) patients considered, 45 (37%) patients had suboptimal drug treatment. Immediate handling was suggested in 13 (11%) patients, most often concerning withdrawals of drugs for anxiety and insomnia. Handling in the longer term was suggested in 32 (26%) patients, most often concerning overuse of proton pump inhibitors. Over the last year, the procedure code ` medication review' was recorded for 65 (53%) patients. In medication reviews recorded during January 2016 (n=45), 23 (7%) drugs out of 309 were acted on, most often a dosage adjustment. Conclusions This pilot study shows that when a broad family physician perspective is applied, taking individual factors and medical priorities in the complex clinical situation into account, drug treatment in primary care is appropriate for the majority of older patients. The results may be useful in sample size considerations for future studies on prescribing practices.

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