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March 1985

Patterns of Analgesic Prescription and Consumption in a University-Affiliated Community Hospital

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Neurology, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, NY.

Arch Intern Med. 1985;145(3):439-441. doi:10.1001/archinte.1985.00360030071015

• To assess the patterns of prescription and consumption of analgesic and psychotropic medications, we reviewed the medication records of all 311 adult medical and surgical patients at a university-affiliated community hospital. Acetaminophen combinations and meperidine accounted for 85% of all analgesics prescribed. Analgesic use declined with advancing age. Two or more analgesics were prescribed to 18% of medical patients, compared with 44% in surgical patients. Less than one third of the patients with cancer received analgesics more frequently than every six hours. Nearly all psychotropic prescriptions were for sedative-hypnotics. Our data suggest that (1) physicians prescribe a limited number of analgesics, despite the variety available; (2) elderly patients receive fewer analgesics; (3) polypharmacy occurs often; (4) pain in patients with cancer is probably undertreated; and (5) psychotropic medications are used infrequently for analgesia.

(Arch Intern Med 1985;145:439-441)