Pro re nata prescribing in a population receiving palliative care: a prospective consecutive case note review.

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Journal Article
Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 2014, 62 (9), pp. 1736 - 1740
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OBJECTIVES: To document pro re nata (PRN) prescribing practices and to identify patterns with respect to clinical characteristics and the medications prescribed. DESIGN: Prospective consecutive case note review. SETTING: Two interrelated consultative hospice and palliative care services in regional Victoria, Australia. PARTICIPANTS: Terminally ill inpatients and community-based individuals (N = 203) at the time of referral to a hospice or palliative care service. MEASUREMENTS: Number of medications that the referring physician prescribed on a PRN basis and on a regular basis for symptom control; comorbid disease, performance status, comorbidity burden, disease phase, and survival. RESULTS: Mean number of PRN medications prescribed was 3.0, with significantly higher rates in the last week of life (rate ratio (RR) = 1.30, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.07-1.59) and during the terminal phase of disease (RR = 1.36, 95% CI = 1.09-1.68). One-quarter of prescriptions were for medications that met the Beers consensus criteria for potentially inappropriate medication use in elderly persons. CONCLUSION: These descriptive baseline data are new. A mean of three different medications allows responsiveness to a variety of fluctuating symptoms, but there was a large range within the sample, indicating that some individuals and their caregivers have a high burden of administration-related decision-making.
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