Background: Persons with profound intellectual and multiple disabilities (PIMD) suffer from a wide range of health problems and use a wide range of different drugs. This study investigated for frequently used medication whether there was a health problem documented in the medical notes for the drug prescribed.
Method: Persons with PIMD with an estimated intelligence quotient of 25 and profound or severe motor disorders were studied. Data on health problems were taken from medical notes and prescribing data were obtained from pharmacies. Data covering 1 year were analysed. For four therapeutic areas (anticonvulsants, laxatives, drugs for peptic ulcer and gastro-oesophageal reflux disease and psycholeptics), we determined whether we could find an indication for prescribed medication.
Results: Some 254 persons with PIMD (46% male, 54% female; median age 49 years, range 6-82) from eight residential facilities participated. Some 226 participants (89%) were prescribed medication over the course of 1 year. An indication for the prescribed medication was documented for 92% (n = 130) (95% confidence interval 88-96%) of 141 participants on anticonvulsants, for 68% (n = 112) (61-75%) of 165 participants on laxatives, for 44% (n = 58) (36-52%) of 132 participants on drugs for peptic ulcer and gastro-oesophageal reflux disease, and for 89% (n = 102) (83-95%) of 115 participants on psycholeptic drugs.
Conclusions: The best level of documentation was found for anticonvulsants the worst for drugs for peptic ulcer and gastro-oesophageal reflux disease. Lack of documenting an indication may be due to off-label use, inadvertent continuation of no longer indicated medication, inadequate documentation and underdiagnosis. Adequate documentation practices are essential because of the communication problems that are characteristic for persons with PIMD.