Back to Journals » International Journal of General Medicine » Volume 9

Iron deficiency intravenous substitution in a Swiss academic primary care division: analysis of practices

Authors Varcher M, Zisimopoulou S, Braillard O, Favrat B, Junod Perron N

Received 9 March 2016

Accepted for publication 9 April 2016

Published 4 July 2016 Volume 2016:9 Pages 221—227


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Scott Fraser

Monica Varcher,1 Sofia Zisimopoulou,1 Olivia Braillard,1 Bernard Favrat,2 Noëlle Junod Perron1

1Department of Community, Primary and Emergency Care, Division of Primary Care, Geneva University Hospitals, Geneva, 2Department of Ambulatory Care and Community Medicine, University of Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland

Background: Iron deficiency is a common problem in primary care and is usually treated with oral iron substitution. With the recent simplification of intravenous (IV) iron administration (ferric carboxymaltose) and its approval in many countries for iron deficiency, physicians may be inclined to overutilize it as a first-line substitution.
Objective: The aim of this study was to evaluate iron deficiency management and substitution practices in an academic primary care division 5 years after ferric carboxymaltose was approved for treatment of iron deficiency in Switzerland.
Methods: All patients treated for iron deficiency during March and April 2012 at the Geneva University Division of Primary Care were identified. Their medical files were analyzed for information, including initial ferritin value, reasons for the investigation of iron levels, suspected etiology, type of treatment initiated, and clinical and biological follow-up. Findings were assessed using an algorithm for iron deficiency management based on a literature review.
Results: Out of 1,671 patients, 93 were treated for iron deficiency. Median patients’ age was 40 years and 92.5% (n=86) were female. The average ferritin value was 17.2 μg/L (standard deviation 13.3 μg/L). The reasons for the investigation of iron levels were documented in 82% and the suspected etiology for iron deficiency was reported in 67%. Seventy percent of the patients received oral treatment, 14% IV treatment, and 16% both. The reasons for IV treatment as first- and second-line treatment were reported in 57% and 95%, respectively. Clinical and biological follow-up was planned in less than two-thirds of the cases.
Conclusion: There was no clear overutilization of IV iron substitution. However, several steps of the iron deficiency management were not optimally documented, suggesting shortcuts in clinical reasoning.

Keywords: iron deficiency, iron substitution, general practice, quality of care, cross-sectional design

Creative Commons License This work is published and licensed by Dove Medical Press Limited. The full terms of this license are available at and incorporate the Creative Commons Attribution - Non Commercial (unported, v3.0) License. By accessing the work you hereby accept the Terms. Non-commercial uses of the work are permitted without any further permission from Dove Medical Press Limited, provided the work is properly attributed. For permission for commercial use of this work, please see paragraphs 4.2 and 5 of our Terms.

Download Article [PDF]  View Full Text [HTML][Machine readable]