Five-year evolution of drug prescribing in a university adult intensive care unit
© BioMed Central Ltd. 2010
Published: 1 March 2010
Drug prescription is difficult in ICUs as prescribers are many, drugs expensive and decisions complex. In our ICU, specialist clinicians (SC) are entitled to prescribe a list of specific drugs, negotiated with intensive care physicians (ICP). The objective of this investigation was to assess the 5-year evolution of quantity and costs of drug prescription in our adult ICU and identify the relative costs generated by ICP or SC.
Quantities and costs of drugs delivered on a quarterly basis to the adult ICU of our hospital between 2004 and 2008 were extracted from the pharmacy database by ATC code, an international five-level classification system. Within each ATC first level, drugs with either high level of consumption, high costs or large variations in quantities and costs were singled out and split by type of prescriber, ICP or SC. Cost figures used were drug purchase prices by the hospital pharmacy.
A 5-year increase in quantities and costs of drug prescription in an ICU is a matter of concern. Rather unexpectedly, total costs and cost increases were generated mainly by ICP. A careful follow-up is necessary to try influencing this evolution through an institutional policy co-opted by all professional categories involved in the process.