Prospective cohort study of nonspecific deprescribing in older medical inpatients being discharged to a nursing home

Patrick Russell, Udul Hewage, Cameron McDonald, Campbell Thompson, Richard Woodman, Arduino A. Mangoni

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Background: Older patients from nursing homes are commonly exposed to polypharmacy before a hospital admission. Deprescribing has been promoted as a solution to this problem, though systematic reviews have not found benefit. The aim of this study was to understand if in-hospital deprescribing of certain classes of medications is associated with certain benefits or risks. Methods: We conducted a prospective, multicentre, cohort study in 239 medical inpatients ⩾75 years (mean age 87.4 years) who were exposed to polypharmacy (⩾5 medications) prior to admission and discharged to a nursing home for permanent placement. Patients were categorised by whether deprescribing occurred, mortality and readmissions were assessed 30 and 90 days after hospital discharge. The EQ-5D-5 L health survey assessed changes in health-related quality of life (HRQOL) at 90 days, with comparison to EQ-5D-5 L results at day 30. Latent class analysis (LCA) was used to investigate associations between patterns of prescribed and deprescribed medications and mortality. Results: Patients for whom deprescribing occurred had a higher Charlson Index; there were no differences between the groups in principal diagnosis, total or Beers list number of medications on admission. The number of Beers list medications increased in both groups before discharge. Patients who had medications deprescribed had nonsignificantly greater odds of dying within 90 days [odds ration (OR) = 3.23 (95% confidence interval (CI): 0.68, 14.92; p = 0.136]. Deprescribing of certain classes was associated with higher 90-day mortality: antihypertensives (OR = 2.27, 95% CI: 1.004, 5; p = 0.049) and statins (OR = 5, 95% CI: 1.61, 14.28; p = 0.005). Readmissions and 1-year mortality rates were similar. There was no deterioration in HRQOL when medications were deprescribed. LCA showed that patients with the least medication changes had the lowest mortality. Conclusion: Deprescribing certain classes of medications during hospitalisation was associated with worse mortality, but not readmissions or overall HRQOL. Larger controlled deprescribing studies targeting specific medications are warranted to further investigate these findings. This study was registered with the Australian and New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry, ACTRN1 2616001336471.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages13
JournalTherapeutic Advances in Drug Safety
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021


  • aged care
  • deprescribing
  • elderly
  • EQ-5D-5 L
  • health-related quality of life
  • hospital medicine
  • mortality
  • nursing homes
  • prescribing


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