Assessment of Prescribing and Monitoring Habits for Patients Taking an Antiarrhythmic and Concomitant QTc-Prolonging Antibiotic

Pharmacy (Basel). 2017 Nov 1;5(4):61. doi: 10.3390/pharmacy5040061.


Patients may intermittently require antimicrobial therapy with a QTc-prolonging antibiotic, which presents a challenge for prescribers of patients already taking a QTc-prolonging antiarrhythmic. Manufacturers recommend close monitoring for evidence of QTc-prolongation with the concomitant use of QTc-prolonging medications, but the monitoring parameters are not well-defined. Previous studies recommend a surveillance electrocardiogram (EKG) be completed both before and after the initiation of QTc-prolonging medications, but it is unknown to what degree EKGs displaying the QTc-interval are used to alter physician order entry and pharmacist order verification during concomitant therapy. A retrospective chart review was conducted between October 2015-September 2016 to assess prescribing and monitoring habits for patients taking an antiarrhythmic and a concomitant QTc-prolonging antibiotic. Of the 42 patients who received at least one dose of two QTc-prolonging agents, 36 (85.7%) received a baseline EKG, and 23 (63.8%) received a follow-up EKG. Pharmacists intervened on this drug-drug interaction and recommended follow-up EKGs only three times (8.3%) and offered alternative therapy recommendations once (2.8%). The QTc-interval was not optimally monitored in some instances for patients concomitantly receiving two QTc-prolonging agents. These results stress the importance of inter-professional communication to place an emphasis on follow-up monitoring or use of alternative therapy agents to avoid the drug-drug interaction altogether.

Keywords: QTc-prolongation; antiarrhythmic; drug-interaction; electrocardiogram; fluoroquinolone; macrolide.