Objective: To determine the relationship of inappropriate prescribing in the elderly to health outcomes.
Setting: General Medical Clinic of the Durham Veterans Affairs Medical Center.
Patients: A total of 208 veterans more than 65 years old who were each taking five or more drugs and participated in a pharmacist intervention trial.
Measurements: Prescribing appropriateness was assessed by a clinical pharmacist using the medication appropriateness index (MAI). A summed MAI score was calculated, with higher scores indicating less appropriate prescribing. The health outcomes were hospitalization, unscheduled ambulatory or emergency care visits, and blood pressure control.
Results: Bivariate analyses revealed that mean MAI scores at baseline were higher for those with hospital admissions (18.9 vs. 16.9, p = 0.07) and unscheduled ambulatory or emergency care visits (18.8 vs. 16.3, p = 0.05) over the subsequent 12 months than for those without admissions and emergency care visits. MAI scores for antihypertensive medications were higher for patients with inadequate blood pressure control (> 160/90 mm Hg) than for those whose blood pressure was controlled (4.7 vs. 3.1, p = 0.02).
Conclusions: Inappropriate prescribing appeared to be associated with adverse health outcomes. This findings needs to be confirmed in future studies that have larger samples and control for potential confounders.