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Unintended discontinuation of medication following hospitalisation: a retrospective cohort study.

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posted on 2022-03-07, 14:27 authored by Patrick RedmondPatrick Redmond, Ronald McDowell, Tamasine C C. Grimes, Fiona BolandFiona Boland, Ronan McDonnell, Carmel Hughes, Tom FaheyTom Fahey

OBJECTIVES: Whether unintended discontinuation of common, evidence-based, long-term medication occurs after hospitalisation; what factors are associated with unintended discontinuation; and whether the presence of documentation of medication at hospital discharge is associated with continuity of medication in general practice.

DESIGN: Retrospective cohort study between 2012 and 2015.

SETTING: Electronic records and hospital supplied discharge notifications in 44 Irish general practices.

PARTICIPANTS: 20 488 patients aged 65 years or more prescribed long-term medication for chronic conditions.

PRIMARY AND SECONDARY OUTCOMES: Discontinuity of four evidence-based medication drug classes: antithrombotic, lipid-lowering, thyroid replacement drugs and respiratory inhalers in hospitalised versus non-hospitalised patients; patient and health system factors associated with discontinuity; impact of the presence of medication in the hospital discharge summary on continuity of medication in a patient's general practitioner (GP) prescribing record at 6 months follow-up.

RESULTS: In patients admitted to hospital, medication discontinuity ranged from 6%-11% in the 6 months posthospitalisation. Discontinuity of medication is significantly lower for hospitalised patients taking respiratory inhalers (adjusted OR (AOR) 0.63, 95% CI (0.49 to 0.80), p

CONCLUSION: Discontinuity of evidence-based long-term medication is common. Increasing age and private medical care are independently associated with a higher risk of medication discontinuity. Hospitalisation is not associated with discontinuity but less than half of hospitalised patients have medication recorded on their hospital discharge summary.


Health Research Board of Ireland, HRC-2014-1. This work was conducted as part of the HRB Scholar Programme in Health Services Research under Grant No. PHD/2007/16.



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Published Citation

Redmond P, McDowell R, Grimes TC, Boland F, McDonnell R, Hughes C, Fahey T. Unintended discontinuation of medication following hospitalisation: a retrospective cohort study. BMJ Open. 2019;9(6):e024747.

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  • General Practice
  • HRB Centre for Primary Care Research

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