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A study of medication reviews to identify drug-related problems of polypharmacy patients in the Dutch nursing home setting


J. G. Maring, PharmD, PhD, Department of Pharmacy, Diaconessen Hospital Meppel & Bethesda Hospital Hoogeveen, Hoogeveensweg 38, 7943 KA Meppel, The Netherlands. Tel.: +31 522 234900; fax: + 31 522 243900; e-mail:


Background:  Little is known about the extent of drug-related problems of polypharmacy patients in Dutch nursing homes.

Objectives:  We investigated the feasibility of teams of hospital pharmacists and nursing home physicians carrying out medication reviews. We aimed to identify the number and nature of drug-related problems of nursing home patients receiving more than nine drugs (polypharmacy).

Methods:  The study was carried out in five Dutch nursing homes (n = 742 beds) between October 2005 and May 2006. Ninety-one polypharmacy patients, (average age 80 years) were included. A medication review was carried out by teams consisting of one hospital pharmacist and the patient’s nursing home physician with a follow-up meeting of the same team 6 weeks later.

Results:  A total of 323 drug-related problems were identified (mean of 3·5 problems per patient). Sixty-two per cent of problems, in 87% of patients, were classified as ‘unclear or not confirmed indication or need for review’ of the prescribed drug. By the time of the follow-up, a mean of 1·7 (n = 159) problems per patient had been solved and the number of drugs per patient had decreased significantly from 13·5 to 12·7 (P < 0·0001).

Conclusions:  The majority of patients had at least one drug prescribed for which the indication was unknown. The intervention was accompanied by a significant decrease in the number of drugs per patient, but half of the drug-related problems remained unsolved.