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Medication transitions and polypharmacy in older adults following acute care

Authors Gamble JM, Hall JJ, Marrie TJ, Sadowski CA, Majumdar SR, Eurich DT

Received 4 December 2013

Accepted for publication 14 January 2014

Published 19 March 2014 Volume 2014:10 Pages 189—196

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/TCRM.S58707

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 2

Video abstract presented by Jill Hall

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John-Michael Gamble,1,* Jill J Hall,2,* Thomas J Marrie,3 Cheryl A Sadowski,2 Sumit R Majumdar,4 Dean T Eurich5

1School of Pharmacy, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St John's, NL, 2Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, 3Faculty of Medicine, Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS, 4Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry, 5School of Public Health, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada

*These authors contributed equally to this work

Background/objective: Medication changes at transitions of care and polypharmacy are growing concerns that adversely impact optimal drug use. We aimed to describe transitions and patterns of medication use before and 1 year after older patients were hospitalized for community-acquired pneumonia, the second-most common reason for admission in North America.
Materials and methods: This was an analysis of a population-based clinical registry of patients treated in any of the six hospitals or seven emergency departments in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, comprising 2,105 patients 65 years and older with community-acquired pneumonia who had survived at least 1 year. The prevalence of polypharmacy (five or more unique prescription drugs), as well as new use and persistence of common drug classes were assessed.
Results: The mean age was 78 years (standard deviation 8 years), 50% were female, 62% were hospitalized, and 58% had severe pneumonia. Among the 2,105 patients, 949 (45%) were using five or more medications prior to hospitalization, increasing to 1,559 (74%) within 90 days postdischarge and remaining over 70% at 1 year. Overall, 1,690 (80%) patients newly started and 1,553 (74%) patients stopped at least one medication in the first 90 days of follow-up. The prevalence of the most common drug classes (ie, cardiovascular, alimentary/metabolism) remained stable, with the exception of anti-infective agents, whereby 25% of patients were dispensed an anti-infective agent 3 months to 1 year after hospitalization.
Conclusion: Most older patients with pneumonia are subject to polypharmacy, and almost every patient had a medication started or stopped during 1-year follow-up, with 25% using antibiotics again. The period following an episode of pneumonia represents an opportunity potentially to optimize pharmacotherapy.

Keywords: polypharmacy, drug utilization, elderly, community-acquired pneumonia, pharmacoepidemiology

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