A retrospective comparison of inappropriate prescribing of psychotropics in three Norwegian nursing homes in 2000 and 2016 with prescribing quality indicators
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Background: Inappropriate prescribing of psychotropics is a persistent and prevalent problem in nursing homes. The present study compared inappropriate prescribing of psychotropics in nursing homes 16 years apart with prescribing quality indicators. The purpose was to identify any change in inappropriate prescribing of relevance for medical informatics. Methods: Three Norwegian nursing homes were audited in 2000 and 2016 with regard to prescribing quality. Psychotropics among 386 patients in 2000, and 416 patients in 2016, included combinations of antidepressants, antipsychotics, anxiolytics-hypnotics, and antiepileptics. Prescribing quality indicators included psychotropic polypharmacy (defined as concurrent use of three or more psychotropics) and potential inappropriate psychotropic substances or combinations. Furthermore, potential clinically relevant psychotropic interactions were classified as pharmacodynamic or pharmacokinetic using an interaction database. The first ranked (most important) interaction in each patient was selected with the following importance of categories in the database; recommended action > documentation > severity. Three levels (from low to high) within each category were used for ranking. Results: From 2000 to 2016, psychotropic polypharmacy increased from 6.2 to 29.6%, potential inappropriate psychotropic substances was reduced from 17.9 to 11.3% and potential inappropriate psychotropic combinations increased from 7.8 to 27.9%. Changes in polypharmacy and combinations were predominantly associated with prescribing of anxiolytics-hypnotics. Sixty-three patients (16.3%) had psychotropic interactions in 2000 increasing to 146 patients (35.1%) in 2016. The increase in interactions was associated with prescribing of antidepressants. First ranked interactions, more than 60% of all interactions in both years, were increasingly pharmacodynamic, from 69.9 to 91.0%. Interactions in 2016 were associated with a lower level of recommended action and documentation, but not severity compared to 2000. The inappropriate prescribing of antipsychotics and antiepileptics was reduced in 2016 compared to 2000. Conclusions: Using prescribing quality indicators we observed the importance of antidepressants and anxiolytics-hypnotics for inappropriate prescribing in 2016 while the role of antipsychotics and antiepileptics were reduced compared to 2000. A change to mainly pharmacodynamic interactions that lack good documentation was also observed. The present findings can be used for medical informatics-based approaches to address specific problems with prescribing, and prescribing quality indicators, in Norwegian nursing homes.