Potentially inappropriate medication use in nursing homes: an observational study using the NORGEP-NH criteria

BMC Geriatr. 2017 Sep 19;17(1):220. doi: 10.1186/s12877-017-0608-z.


Background: Frail residents in the nursing home sector call for extra care in prescribing. The Norwegian General Practice Nursing Home (NORGEP-NH) list of 34 explicit criteria for potentially inappropriate medication use in nursing homes was developed explicitly for this population. The aim of this study was to employ the NORGEP-NH Criteria to study the extent of potentially inappropriate medication use among nursing home residents and explore possible associated factors.

Methods: Cross-sectional observational pharmacoepidemiological study from residents in nursing homes in the county of Vestfold, Norway. Data collected 2009-11 included residents' demographic and clinical status and all medications, regular and on demand.

Results: 881 patients from 30 institutions (mean 85.9 years, 68.6% female), were included. According to NORGEP-NH, 43.8% were prescribed at least one potentially inappropriate regular medication, and 9.9% regularly received three or more potentially inappropriate medications. When also including a) the NORGEP-NH Deprescribing Criteria and b) including drugs prescribed for use as needed, 92.7% of all residents received medication that needs particular surveillance according to the NORGEP-NH. 69.7% of the nursing home residents used at least one psychotropic drug regularly. Female residents received more often than males at least one potentially inappropriate regular medication (OR 1.60, p=0.007). Regarding the prescription of three or more concomitant psychotropic medications, odds ratio for females was 1.79 (p=0.03) compared to males. Residents with the best performance in activities of daily living, and residents residing in long-term wards, had higher risk of using three or more psychotropic drugs. Use of multiple psychoactive drugs increased the risk of falls in the course of an acute episode of infection or dehydration (odds ratio 1.70, p=0.009).

Conclusions: Prevalence of potentially inappropriate medications in nursing homes according to the NORGEP-NH was extensive, and especially the use of multiple psychotropic drugs. The high prevalence found in this study shows that there is a need for higher awareness of medication use and side effects in the elderly population.

Trial registration: Retrospectively registered. Data obtained from clinical trial NCT01023763 registered with ClinicalTrials.gov 12/01/2009.

Keywords: Drug safety; Elderly; Explicit criteria; NORGEP-NH; Nursing homes; Potentially inappropriate medication use; Psychotropic medications.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Homes for the Aged / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Inappropriate Prescribing / statistics & numerical data*
  • Male
  • Medication Errors / prevention & control*
  • Norway / epidemiology
  • Nursing Homes / statistics & numerical data*
  • Pharmacoepidemiology / statistics & numerical data
  • Potentially Inappropriate Medication List / statistics & numerical data*
  • Prevalence
  • Psychotropic Drugs / adverse effects
  • Retrospective Studies


  • Psychotropic Drugs

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT01023763