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Analgesic consumption evolution at the emergency department of a university hospital (2006–2017): a defined daily doses based analysis


Objective Pain management in the emergency department (ED) is a key issue that must be regularly evaluated. Practice evaluation gold standard remains patient file analysis, but is highly time consuming. The aim of this study is to evaluate the interest of a defined daily dose (DDD) based analysis in the evaluation of pain management in the ED.

Methods A local indicator was elaborated based on the DDD concept: the defined dose per admission (DDA). Unlike the DDD that corresponds to a standardised total dose administered over a day, the DDA represents the average total dose administrated to a patient throughout the stay in the ED. A DDA was assigned to every analgesic, from step 1 to step 3. Oral and injectable forms were studied, but transdermal forms were not considered. DDA values were assimilated to the existing DDDs when these were officially established by the WHO. When values were not defined by the WHO, mean values observed in local practice were selected. Annual numbers of patients admitted to the ED and quantities of each analgesic supplied by the pharmacy ward were annually extracted from respective data files. Paediatric patients being treated at a specific separate ED, only adults were considered throughout the study. Raw quantities of analgesics used each year were converted to their equivalent amounts in DDA, and then expressed in numbers of DDA per 100 admissions (DDA/100A). This indicator allowed us to describe relative evolutions of analgesics prescriptions from 2006 to 2017.

Results Analgesic overall use rose from 18.4 to 30.2 DDA/100A between 2006 and 2017, representing a prescription increase of 64%. Throughout the study, step 1 analgesics rose from 10.8 to 19.3 DDA/100A (+79%), step 3 from 1.8 to 5.4 (+200%) and step 2 remained stable around 5.6 DDA/100A. The integration of orodispersible paracetamol tablets in 2013 allowed us to halve the consumption of injectable paracetamol in the long term and had no effect on classic paracetamol oral forms such as tablets or capsules. Tramadol increased from 41% to 78% among step 2 analgesics after the withdrawal of dextropropoxyphene in 2011. Codeine use shows a steady decline from 1.9 DDA/100A in 2011 to 0.72 in 2017.

Discussion/conclusion The DDA concept appears to be an effective tool for assessing long-term analgesic-use trends at hospital EDs. This tool can also mitigate one major bias at EDs, that is the lack of traceability of analgesic administration in emergency contexts. This tool could be adjusted by integrating the average length of stay in the ED.

  • pain management
  • acute pain
  • drug formulary management
  • clinical audit
  • quality in health care

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