Assessing the quality of prescribing and monitoring erythropoiesis-stimulating agents in the nursing home setting

J Am Med Dir Assoc. 2009 Jul;10(6):436-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jamda.2009.03.010.


Introduction: As many as 50% of all nursing home (NH) residents meet the World Health Organization criteria for anemia. The objectives of this study were to determine the prevalence and appropriateness of prescribing and monitoring of erythropoiesis-stimulating agents (ESAs) used to treat anemia in the NH setting.

Methods: Cross-sectional, 1-month study of all NH residents in 4 community-based, university-affiliated NHs between January and February 2008. Residents were included in the analysis if they received at least 1 dose of an ESA during the study duration. Data collected through chart review included basic demographic information, ESA indication, ESA dosage, concurrent administration of iron supplements, hemoglobin (Hgb) monitoring, and blood pressure measurements.

Results: A total of 4.5% (22/485) of NH residents received at least 1 dose of an ESA. Residents who received ESAs had a mean age of 80.4 (+/- 14.5) years. Most residents who received ESAs were female (64% [14/22]), white (68% [15/22]), and had a mean weight of 72.0 (+/- 20.84) kg. Only 27% (6/22) of residents were prescribed an ESA for an FDA-approved indication. Darbepoetin alfa was the most commonly prescribed ESA (64% [14/22]) with a mean weekly dose of 70.8 (+/- 68.1) mug, followed by epoetin alfa (37% [8/22]) with a mean weekly dose of 22,625 (+/- 21,232) units. More than one quarter (27% [6/22]) of those who received an ESA had an Hgb value of 12g/dL or more, the maximum recommended threshold for use of these medications. Of the 18 residents who had blood pressure measurements, 11% (2/18) were hypertensive.

Conclusion: Suboptimal prescribing and monitoring of ESAs were common in the NHs we studied. Future studies are needed to determine if the development and use of computerized decision support systems can improve prescribing and monitoring of ESAs in the NH setting.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Anemia / drug therapy
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Drug Prescriptions*
  • Female
  • Hematinics / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Medical Audit
  • Nursing Homes*


  • Hematinics