Detectability of Medication Errors With a STOPP/START-Based Medication Review in Older People Prior to a Potentially Preventable Drug-Related Hospital Admission

Drug Saf. 2022 Dec;45(12):1501-1516. doi: 10.1007/s40264-022-01237-5. Epub 2022 Nov 1.


Introduction: Multimorbidity and polypharmacy are risk factors for drug-related hospital admissions (DRAs) in the ageing population. DRAs caused by medication errors (MEs) are considered potentially preventable. The STOPP/START criteria were developed to detect potential MEs in older people.

Objective: The aim of this study was to assess the detectability of MEs with a STOPP/START-based in-hospital medication review in older people with polypharmacy and multimorbidity prior to a potentially preventable DRA.

Methods: Hospitalised older patients (n = 963) with polypharmacy and multimorbidity from the intervention arm of the OPERAM trial received a STOPP/START-based in-hospital medication review by a pharmacotherapy team. Readmissions within 1 year after the in-hospital medication review were adjudicated for drug-relatedness. A retrospective assessment was performed to determine whether MEs identified at the first DRA were detectable during the in-hospital medication review.

Results: In total, 84 of 963 OPERAM intervention patients (8.7%) were readmitted with a potentially preventable DRA, of which 72 patients (n = 77 MEs) were eligible for analysis. About half (48%, n = 37/77) of the MEs were not present during the in-hospital medication review and therefore were not detectable at that time. The pharmacotherapy team recommended a change in medication regimen in 50% (n = 20/40) of present MEs, which corresponds to 26% (n = 20/77) of the total identified MEs at readmission. However, these recommendations were not implemented.

Conclusion: MEs identified at readmission were not addressed by a prior single in-hospital medication review because either these MEs occurred after the medication review (~50%), or no recommendation was given during the medication review (~25%), or the recommendation was not implemented (~25%). Future research should focus on optimisation of the timing and frequency of medication review and the implementation of proposed medication recommendations.

Registration: identifier: NCT02986425. December 8, 2016.

Funding: European Union HORIZON 2020, Swiss State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI), Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF).

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Drug-Related Side Effects and Adverse Reactions* / epidemiology
  • Drug-Related Side Effects and Adverse Reactions* / prevention & control
  • Hospitals
  • Humans
  • Inappropriate Prescribing
  • Medication Review
  • Polypharmacy
  • Potentially Inappropriate Medication List*
  • Retrospective Studies

Associated data