Stress ulcers and related upper gastrointestinal bleeding are well-known complications in intensive care unit (ICU) patients. Proton pump inhibitor (PPI)-based stress ulcer prophylaxis (SUP) has been widely prescribed in noncritically ill patients who are at low risk for clinically significant bleeding, which is then injudiciously continued after hospital discharge. This study aimed to evaluate the incidence of inappropriate prescribing of PPI-based preventative therapy in ICU versus non-ICU patients that subsequently continued postdischarge, and to estimate the costs incurred by the unwarranted outpatient continuation of PPI therapy.
A retrospective review of patient data at a major teaching hospital in Korea was performed. During the 4-year study period, adult patients who were newly initiated on PPI-based SUP during hospital admission and subsequently discharged on a PPI without a medical indication for such therapy were captured for data analysis. The incidence rates of inappropriate prescribing of PPIs were compared between ICU and non-ICU patients, and the costs associated with such therapy were also examined.
A total of 4,410 patients, more than half of the inpatient-initiated PPI users, were deemed to have been inadvertently prescribed a PPI at discharge in the absence of a medical need for acid suppression. The incidence of inappropriate outpatient continuation of the prophylaxis was higher among ICU patients compared with non-ICU patients (57.7% versus 52.2%, respectively; P=0.001). The total expenditure accrued through the continuation of nonindicated PPI therapy was approximately US$40,175.
This study confirmed that excess usage of PPIs for SUP has spread to low-risk, non-ICU patients. The overuse of unwarranted PPI therapy can incur large health care expenditure, as well as clinical complications with minimal therapeutic benefits. Educating clinicians regarding SUP guidelines and the adverse effects of long-term use of acid suppression can improve the cost effectiveness of PPI therapy.