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22.08.2019 | Original Contributions

Post-discharge adjustment of medication in geriatric patients

A prospective cohort study

Zeitschrift für Gerontologie und Geriatrie
Dr. Olaf Krause, Stefanie Glaubitz, Klaus Hager, Tanja Schleef, Birgitt Wiese, Ulrike Junius-Walker



Little is known to what extent general practitioners (GP) change hospital discharge medications in older patients.


This prospective cohort study aimed to analyze medication changes at the interface between hospital and community in terms of quality, quantity and type of drugs.


A total of 121 out of 248 consecutively enrolled patients admitted to an acute geriatric hospital unit participated in the study. Medication regimens were recorded at admission and discharge and 4 weeks after hospital discharge the general practitioners in charge were contacted to provide the current medication charts. Changes in the extent of polypharmacy, in the type of drugs using anatomical therapeutic chemical classification (ATC) codes and potentially inappropriate medications (PIM) were analyzed.


Medication charts could be obtained for 98 participants in primary care. Only 21% of these patients remained on the original discharge medication. Overall, the average number of medications rose from hospital admission (6.58 SD ± 3.45) to discharge (6.96 SD ± 3.49) and again post-discharge in general practice (7.22 SD ± 3.68). The rates of patients on excessive polypharmacy (≥10 drugs) and on PIM were only temporarily reduced during hospital stay. The GPs stopped anti-infective drugs (ATC-J) and prescribed more antirheumatic drugs (ATC-M). Although no significant net changes occurred in other ATC groups, a substantial number of drugs were interchanged regarding the subgroups.


The study found that GPs extensively adjusted geriatric discharge medications. Whereas some changes may be necessary due to alterations in patients’ state of health, a thorough communication between hospital doctors and GPs may level off different prescribing cultures and contribute to consistency in medication across sectors.

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