Medication misuse in hospitalized patients with renal impairment

Int J Qual Health Care. 2003 Aug;15(4):331-5. doi: 10.1093/intqhc/mzg046.


Objectives: The potential consequences of medication misuse in renal impairment have not been assessed in a population of in-patients. The purpose of this study was to determine the frequency and potential consequences of a lack of dosage adjustment in hospitalized patients with renal impairment.

Design: Order sheets for in-patients having a creatinine above 0.7 mg/dl were analysed. We considered the appropriateness of prescriptions for medications having potential nephrotoxicity and/or eliminated through renal excretion or metabolism (TEM medications) and having manufacturer's guidelines for dosage adjustment in renal impairment.

Main measures: On the basis of these guidelines, each line of prescription was rated as 'appropriate order', 'inappropriate dosage', or 'contra-indicated order'. Experts also rated prescriptions as potentially fatal or severe, serious, significant, or without potential for increased adverse effects.

Results: Two hundred and two order sheets were completed for 164 patients. They totalled 1469 lines of prescription, 85% of which were TEM medications, with guidelines for dosage adjustment for 71% of them (n = 886). Of these 886 prescriptions, 34% were inappropriate, 14% being contra-indicated and 20% with inappropriate dosage given the patient's renal function. Among the 202 order sheets, 75% included at least one inappropriate prescription. Sixty-three per cent included at least one prescription with potentially adverse consequences, 3% of these having potentially fatal or severe consequences.

Conclusion: This study confirms that physicians do not take into account sufficiently patient renal function when prescribing. In light of these results, improving the quality of drug prescription in patients with renal impairment could be of importance for improving the quality of care.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Drug Prescriptions
  • Drug Utilization / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Hospital Bed Capacity, 500 and over
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Medication Errors / mortality
  • Medication Errors / statistics & numerical data*
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians'
  • Prospective Studies
  • Renal Insufficiency / drug therapy*