Pharmacologically inappropriate prescriptions for elderly patients in general practice: How common? Baseline data from The Prescription Peer Academic Detailing (Rx-PAD) study

Scand J Prim Health Care. 2008;26(2):80-5. doi: 10.1080/02813430802002875.


Objective: To assess Norwegian general practitioners' (GPs') level of potentially harmful drug prescribing for elderly patients.

Design: Prescription data for 12 months were retrospectively retrieved from the Norwegian Prescription Database (NorPD). Data were assessed in relation to 13 prescription quality indicators.

Setting: General practice.

Subjects: A total of 454 GPs attending continuous medical education (CME) groups in Southern Norway, 85,836 patients >or=70 years who received any prescription from the GPs during the study period.

Main outcome measures: Number of prescriptions assessed in relation to pharmacological inappropriateness based on a list of 13 explicit prescription quality indicators.

Results: Some 18.4% of the patients (66% females with mean age 79.8 years, 34% males with mean age 78.7 years) received one or more inappropriate prescriptions from their GP. An NSAID in a potentially harmful combination with another drug (7%) and a long-acting benzodiazepine (4.6%) were the most frequent inappropriate prescriptions made. Doctor characteristics associated with more inappropriate prescribing practice were old age and working single-handed with many elderly patients.

Conclusion: The study reveals areas where GPs' prescribing practice for elderly patients can be improved and which can be targeted in educational interventions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Drug Interactions
  • Drug Prescriptions* / standards
  • Drug Utilization Review* / standards
  • Education, Medical, Continuing
  • Family Practice* / education
  • Family Practice* / standards
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Medication Errors / prevention & control
  • Middle Aged
  • Norway
  • Polypharmacy
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians'* / standards
  • Program Evaluation / methods
  • Program Evaluation / standards
  • Quality Indicators, Health Care
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Safety