Frequency of inappropriate continuation of acid suppressive therapy after discharge in patients who began therapy in the surgical intensive care unit

Pharmacotherapy. 2008 Aug;28(8):968-76. doi: 10.1592/phco.28.8.968.


Study objective: To determine the frequency with which patients who begin to receive stress ulcer prophylaxis in the surgical intensive care unit (SICU) are discharged receiving inappropriate acid suppressive therapy (AST).

Design: Prospective, observational evaluation. Setting. Level 1 trauma center and academic tertiary care hospital.

Patients: A total of 248 consecutive adult patients admitted to the SICU during a 6-month period who began to receive AST with a proton pump inhibitor or histamine(2)-receptor antagonist.

Measurements and main results: In most patients (237 [95.6%] of 248), initiation of AST was associated with one or more risk factors for gastrointestinal bleeding. Continuation of AST during hospitalization outside the SICU occurred in 215 patients (86.7%). Sixty patients (24.2%) were discharged from the hospital receiving AST: 52 patients (21.0%) went to skilled nursing facilities or rehabilitation centers, and eight (3.2%) were discharged home. Compared with those whose AST was discontinued in the hospital, patients who continued to receive AST after hospital discharge required extended mechanical ventilation (p=0.001), had twice as many risk factors for gastrointestinal bleeding (p<0.001), were frequently discharged with anticoagulant therapy (p<0.001), exhibited longer hospital and SICU stays (p<0.001), and more frequently demonstrated Glasgow Coma Scale scores of 8 or lower and/or had head injury (p<0.001), hepatic failure (p=0.004), and major trauma (p=0.049). Evaluation of continuation of AST during hospitalization revealed that only 7.4% (16/215) of patients at SICU transfer and 5.0% (3/60) of patients at hospital discharge had a compelling risk factor to continue AST as demonstrated by a coagulopathy at discharge; no patients required mechanical ventilation at hospital discharge.

Conclusion: Most patients inappropriately continued to receive stress ulcer prophylaxis during post-SICU hospitalization. Presence of risk factors for stress ulcer-related gastrointestinal bleeding at SICU admission appears to influence continuation of AST after discharge from the hospital. A low percentage (3.2%) of patients was discharged home receiving inappropriate AST, yet overall, few study patients demonstrated a compelling risk factor for continuation of AST.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anti-Ulcer Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Hemorrhage / etiology
  • Humans
  • Intensive Care Units
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Discharge
  • Peptic Ulcer / prevention & control*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Stress, Psychological / complications*
  • Surgical Procedures, Operative*


  • Anti-Ulcer Agents