Hospital doctors and pharmacists should stop ‘unsafe’ drugs before patients leave hospital – according to researchers at the University of East Anglia.
One in two older people is prescribed a drug that over time has become inappropriate or unnecessary.
In a recent national review on overprescribing titled ‘Good for you, good for us, good for everyone’, the government called on doctors and pharmacists working in GP offices to tackle the problem of overprescribing .
But research from the UEA School of Pharmacy found that nine out of ten older hospital patients and their families believe inappropriate or unnecessary medications should also be spotted and stopped while in hospital.
And the team says that by the time people are back under the care of their GPs, a major opportunity has been missed.
Professor Debi Bhattacharya, UEA School of Pharmacy, said: âWe know that half of the elderly admitted to hospital arrive after receiving a prescription for a drug which, over time, has become inappropriate for them. These drugs will have more risks than benefits.
âAnd their side effects cause problems, like making them drowsy, nauseous, or having trouble falling asleep. These problems have an impact on a person’s quality of life as they can lead to re-hospitalization.
âOur research has shown that very few patients see any of these ‘risky’ drugs stopped while in hospital.
âContinuing with medication when it is not needed unnecessarily harms people and wastes NHS money.
“The time has come to undertake research on how to safely increase the number of inappropriate and unnecessary drugs that are stopped,” she added.
To tackle the problem, Professor Bhattacharya is leading a Â£ 2.4million trial to stop risky drugs in hospital – working with researchers at the universities of York, Newcastle, Leeds and Leicester, Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital and Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge.
We are working with hospitals and GP organizations across England to see if the new strategy works, helps people, causes no harm and is good value for the NHS. And for this trial to be meaningful to people, we need to make sure we’re looking at the things that matter to them when testing whether stopping a drug has a positive result. “
Katherine Murphy, Head of Patient and Public Engagement for CHARMER
The research team recently interviewed 200 people, including patients, caregivers, doctors, nurses, pharmacists, physiotherapists and researchers to find out what they should look at in the trial.
Looking at the results, Katherine Murphy said: âIt was good to see that what people really want us to look at is if patients can do the things they want to do, not how much patients can do. .
âBeing able to climb stairs, for example, may be important for some patients but not for others. We need to make sure that drugs are prescribed to help people achieve the best quality of life. In the trial, we also need to make sure that the way we stop risky drugs is harmless and of good value to the NHS. “
University of East Anglia (UEA)