International Journal of Clinical Pharmacy

, Volume 40, Issue 5, pp 991–996 | Cite as

Deprescribing admission medication at a UK teaching hospital; a report on quantity and nature of activity

  • Sion ScottEmail author
  • Allan Clark
  • Carol Farrow
  • Helen May
  • Martyn Patel
  • Michael James Twigg
  • David John Wright
  • Debi Bhattacharya
Short Research Report


Background Deprescribing medication may be in response to an adverse clinical trigger (reactive) or if future gains are unlikely to outweigh future harms (proactive). A hospital admission may present an opportunity for deprescribing, however current practice is poorly understood. Objective To quantify and describe the nature of deprescribing in a UK teaching hospital. Method Prescribing and discontinuation data for admission medication from a hospital’s electronic prescribing system were extracted over 4 weeks. The rationale for discontinuation of a random sample of 200 was determined using medical records. This informed categorisation of deprescribing activity by clinicians into ‘proactive’ or ‘reactive’. Data were extrapolated to estimate the proportion of admission medications deprescribed and the proportion which were reactive and proactive. Results From 24,552 admission medicines, 977 discontinuations were recorded. Of the 200 discontinuations sampled for review, only 44 (22.0%) were confirmed deprescribing activities; categorised into 7 (15.9%) proactive and 37 (84.1%) reactive. Extrapolation yielded 0.6% (95% CI 0.5–0.7%) of all admission medications deprescribed. Conclusion Limited deprescribing activity, dominated by reactive behaviour was identified, suggesting prescribers require a clinical trigger to prompt deprescribing. There may be scope for increasing proactive deprescribing in hospital, however the extent to which this is feasible is unknown.


Deprescribing Discontinuation Inappropriate medication Medication review Medicines optimisation Polypharmacy United Kingdom 



The research team thank the Pharmacy Department at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital for assisting with electronic data collection.


The research was funded by Pharmacy Research UK (Personal Research Award No.: PRUK-2017-PA2-A).

Conflicts of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of PharmacyUniversity of East AngliaNorwichUK
  2. 2.Norwich Medical SchoolUniversity of East AngliaNorwichUK
  3. 3.Pharmacy DepartmentNorfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation TrustNorwichUK
  4. 4.Older People’s Medicine DepartmentNorfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation TrustNorwichUK

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