Polypharmacy in elderly patients at discharge from the acute care hospital

Andrea Corsonello, Claudio Pedone, Francesco Corica, Raffaele Antonelli Incalzi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: To investigate correlates of polypharmacy at discharge from wards of general medicine and geriatrics. Population: 2465 patients enrolled in the Gruppo Italiano, di Farmacovigilanza nell'Anziano (GIFA) study. Main outcome measure: Polypharmacy, ie having more than 6 drugs prescribed at discharge. Methods: Data on drugs prescribed at home, during hospital stay, and at discharge were collected according to a validated procedure. Logistic regression analysis was used to identify independent correlates of polypharmacy at discharge. The adherence to current therapeutic guidelines was assessed for selected drugs (digitalis, diuretics, antithrombotics, bronchodilators). Results: The median number of prescribed drugs was 3.0 before admission and 4.0 at discharge (p <0.001). Polypharmacy prior to admission (Odds Ratio [OR] 4.32, 95% Confidence Interval [CI] 3.13-5.96), cumulative comorbidity (OR 1.81, 95% CI 1.40-2.32) and selected chronic conditions (diabetes, heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, renal insufficiency, and depression) were significant correlates of polypharmacy at discharge. Negative correlate of the outcome was the occurrence of adverse drug reactions prior to admission (OR 0.22, 95% CI 0.09-0.51). The rate of appropriate prescription reached 80% only for antithrombotics either at home or in hospital and at discharge. Conclusions: Hospitalization increases drug prescription at discharge in elderly patients. Efforts are needed to identify the determinants and to assess the quality of this prescription practice, with the final aim of contrasting polypharmacy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)197-203
Number of pages7
JournalTherapeutics and Clinical Risk Management
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2007


  • Comorbidity
  • Elderly
  • Epidemiology
  • Polypharmacy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology (medical)
  • Medicine(all)
  • Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics(all)
  • Safety Research
  • Chemical Health and Safety


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