Skip to main content

Pharmacists and fastidiousness improve compliance with guidelines for stress ulcer prophylaxis


This audit assessed compliance with guidelines for the use of stress ulcer prophylaxis (SUP) in our mixed general/neurosurgical ICU. These patients are at increased risk of gastrointestinal bleeding with clinically important bleeding occurring in about 3.5% of patients ventilated for 48 hours or more [1]. SUP guidelines: all patients at risk of stress ulceration (coagulopathy/IPPV >48 hours/nasogastric (n.g.) feed not absorbed) or already on ant acids should receive ranitidine, enterally where possible. Exceptions are patients on a proton pump inhibitor (PPI) prior to ICU admission. PPIs should continue enterally if possible as lanzoprazole, or as omeprazole i.v.


Data were collected from May to August 2010 (Period 1). Results from this were discussed and the following interventions adopted prior to further data collection (Period 2: August to November 2011): prescription of SUP in all ventilated patients on admission to the ICU; discontinuation of SUP after 48 hours if n.g. feeding tolerated; documented daily review of SUP including consideration of discontinuation, drug, route and dose used; and the presence of the ICU pharmacist on ward rounds, briefed specifically to prompt correct SUP use.


Period 1 (n = 86) revealed excess use of SUP, excess use of PPIs when ranitidine was indicated, unnecessary i.v. administration and failure to discontinue prophylaxis appropriately. Period 2 (n = 71) demonstrated: no fall in SUP use in those with indications (93% vs. 97%, P = 0.65); increased prescription accuracy in terms of drug, dose and administration route (40% vs. 84%, P = 0.0001); no increased unindicated SUP use; and reduction in inappropriate i.v. administration (23.1% vs. 0%, P = 0.0024).


Emphasis on the guidelines for SUP to all members of the team, especially the pharmacist, improves compliance. Inclusion in SUP prescriptions of the intended discontinuation date may further reduce excessive duration of treatment. Re-audit will occur after implementation of new guidelines which acknowledge the diminishing benefit from SUP and the not-insignificant risks associated with its use.


  1. Cook DJ, et al.: Crit Care. 2001, 5: 368-375. 10.1186/cc1071

    PubMed Central  CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Rights and permissions

This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated in a credit line to the data.

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Sanders, S., Shelley, K. & Marsh, A. Pharmacists and fastidiousness improve compliance with guidelines for stress ulcer prophylaxis. Crit Care 16, P516 (2012).

Download citation

  • Published:

  • DOI:


  • Public Health
  • Data Collection
  • Emergency Medicine
  • Omeprazole
  • Proton Pump Inhibitor