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Drug utilization patterns in the emergency department: A retrospective study

Author(s): KA Al Balushi, S Al-Shibli, I Al-Zakwani

Objectives: The aim of this study was to assess the prescribing trends and costs of drugs in the emergency department (ED) at Sultan Qaboos University Hospital (SQUH), a tertiary care hospital, in Muscat, the Sultanate of Oman. Materials and Methods: This was a retrospective cross‑sectional study of all patients (n = 300) who attended the ED at SQUH in May 2012. Analyses were performed using descriptive and univariate statistics. Results: The average age of patients was 34 ± 19 years. The average number of drugs prescribed per patients was 3.2 ± 1.9 and the majority of the patients (n = 78; 26%) received two drugs. The most common route of drug administration was the oral route (n = 481; 51%) followed by parenterally (n = 357; 38%). Non‑steroidal anti‑inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) were the most commonly prescribed class of drugs (38%) followed by the gastro‑intestinal tract drugs (19%) and central nervous system drugs (13%). The average cost per prescription was 242 ± 632 US$. Morphine had the highest cost (1885 US$) followed by cefuroxime (1404 US$) and filgrastim (939 US$) over the 1‑month period. There was a significant positive correlation between hospital cost and age (P < 0.001), duration of stay at the ED (P = 0.008) and emergency types (P < 0.001). Conclusion: NSAIDs were the most frequent class of drugs administered to patients. Highest number of drugs was prescribed for cardiovascular diseases followed by respiratory and gastrointestinal diseases. Anti‑infective drugs cost was the highest among all other classes. The results of the present study are attempts to highlight the importance of strategies that have to be implemented to optimize medication use at the ED.


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