Pethidine in emergency departments: Promoting evidence-based prescribing

Karen Kaye, Susan Welch, Linda Graudins, Andis Graudins, Tai Rotem, Sharon Davis, Richard Day

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19 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: To reduce pethidine prescribing in hospital emergency departments (EDs). Design: Multi-centre drug use evaluation (DUE) process. Setting and participants: Emergency departments in 23 public hospitals (22 in New South Wales, 1 in Victoria) from 1 September 2002 to 31 August 2003. Participating hospitals included seven principal referral hospitals, six major non-teaching hospitals and 10 district or community hospitals. Data for comparison were collected from 12 non-participating hospitals. Interventions: Hospital coordinators at each participating hospital were provided with support to implement a range of prescribing interventions in their ED in each of three DUE cycles. Interventions included educational materials (guidelines, posters, prescribing reminders), audit and feedback, and small-group discussions. Three audits of pethidine prescribing were undertaken. Prescribing was compared with evidence-based guidelines and non-concordance identified. Main outcome measures: Number of dosage units of parenteral analgesics issued to the ED from each hospital s pharmacy department was recorded monthly and aggregated in 3-month periods. Results: In the 12 months between the preintervention period and the equivalent post-intervention period, pethidine use decreased by 62 in project hospitals (4669 to 1793 units) and 56 in control hospitals (1476 to 648 units). Six months after project completion there was a significantly greater reduction from baseline in participating hospitals (71 ; 4669 to 1348 units) compared with non-participating hospitals (64 ; 1476 to 532 units; P <0.001). There was a concurrent increase in use of both morphine and tramadol. Conclusion: There was a sustained reduction in pethidine use during the study period, which may indicate successful promotion of safer analgesic prescribing. It is not clear whether changes were a result of collaborative DUE methods or other factors.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)129 - 133
Number of pages5
JournalMedical Journal of Australia
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2005

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