Objective: To test the hypothesis that colchicine therapy for patients in whom treatment was guided by rheumatology consultation was more appropriately prescribed than therapy for patients not receiving consultation.
Methods: A retrospective chart review of all inpatients with acute crystal induced arthritis who received intravenous (iv) colchicine was performed to assess iv colchicine prescribing errors and any adverse outcomes of iv colchicine therapy.
Results: Errors in the prescribing of iv colchicine occurred in 5 of 19 patients (26%). A rheumatology consultation was not obtained in any of these cases. Overall, there was a significant increase in the prescribing error rate in the no-consultation versus the consultation groups (p = 0.045). These 5 errors did not lead to serious adverse outcomes, but leukopenia occurred in one patient and the white blood cell count decreased from 7.3 to 4.3 cells/mm3 in another patient. Leukopenia also occurred in 3 patients in whom iv colchicine was used appropriately.
Conclusion: (1) Previously published guidelines for iv colchicine use appeared successful at preventing serious colchicine toxicity. (2) These guidelines do not protect against leukopenia occurring from colchicine use. (3) Rheumatology consultation may help prevent errors in the use of iv colchicine. (4) Further education is needed in the correct use of iv colchicine.