Objectives: To determine the prevalence and economic effect of inappropriate proton pump inhibitor (PPI) use in an ambulatory care setting.
Study design: Retrospective medical record review of random sample with subgroup analysis.
Methods: Patients were categorized according to appropriateness of pharmacotherapy based on documented upper gastrointestinal tract diagnoses, gastrointestinal or extraesophageal symptoms, or gastroprotection. Adverse events potentially associated with PPI use were identified.
Results: Of 946 patients in an ambulatory care setting, 35.4% were given PPI therapy for an appropriately documented upper gastrointestinal tract diagnosis, 10.1% received PPIs empirically for symptomatic treatment based on extraesophageal symptoms, 18.4% received PPIs for gastroprotection, and 36.1% had no documented appropriate indication for PPI therapy. In a subgroup analysis, 48.6% of patients across all 4 categories received PPIs without documentation of reevaluation of upper gastrointestinal tract symptoms, accounting for 1034 patient-years of PPI use. The total cost of inappropriate PPI use was $233,994 based on over-the-counter PPI costs and $1,566,252 based on average wholesale price costs. Potentially related adverse events in this cohort included Clostridium difficile–associated diarrhea (6 cases) and community-acquired pneumonia (1 case), but no cases of hip fracture or vitamin B12 deficiency were identified.
Conclusions: Proton pump inhibitors are often overused in the ambulatory care setting without documented valid indications. Inappropriate use of PPIs is associated with substantial cost expenditure and with the potential for adverse events.