Can screening tools for potentially inappropriate prescriptions in older adults prevent serious adverse drug events?

Eur J Clin Pharmacol. 2019 May;75(5):627-637. doi: 10.1007/s00228-019-02624-1. Epub 2019 Jan 20.


Purpose: The purpose of the study is to identify and explore risk factors of serious adverse drug events (SADE) and SADE-related admissions in acutely hospitalized multimorbid older adults and assess whether these could have been prevented by adherence to the prescription tools Screening Tool of Older Persons' Prescriptions (STOPP) and The Norwegian General Practice (NORGEP) criteria.

Methods: Cross-sectional study of acutely admitted patients to a medical department in a Norwegian regional hospital. Eligible patients were community-dwelling, receiving home care services, and aged 75+, with ≥ 3 chronic diseases. Medications and information regarding the admission were retrieved from the referral letter and medical records, while an expert panel identified SADE using the Common Terminology Criteria for Adverse Events and SADE-related admissions.

Results: We included 232 patients. Mean (SD) age was 86 (5.7) years, 137 (59%) were female, 121 (52%) used 5-9 drugs whereas 65 (28%) used ≥ 10. We identified SADEs in 72 (31%) of the patients, and in 49 (68%) of these cases, the SADE was considered to cause the hospital admission. A low body mass index (BMI) and a high Cumulative Illness Rating Scale-Geriatrics (CIRS-G) score were independent risk factors for SADEs. Among the SADEs identified, 32 (44%) and 11 (15%) were preventable by adherence to STOPP and NORGEP, respectively.

Conclusions: We found a high prevalence of SADE leading to hospitalization. Risk factors for SADE were high CIRS-G and low BMI. STOPP identified more SADEs than NORGEP, but adherence to the prescription tools could only to a limited degree prevent SADEs in this patient group.

Keywords: Adverse drug events; CTCAE; Elderly; NORGEP; Potentially inappropriate medication (PIM); STOPP.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Chronic Disease
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Drug-Related Side Effects and Adverse Reactions / classification
  • Drug-Related Side Effects and Adverse Reactions / epidemiology
  • Drug-Related Side Effects and Adverse Reactions / prevention & control*
  • Female
  • Geriatrics / methods
  • Hospitalization / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Inappropriate Prescribing / adverse effects
  • Inappropriate Prescribing / prevention & control*
  • Male
  • Multimorbidity
  • Norway / epidemiology
  • Potentially Inappropriate Medication List*
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors