A new tool has been developed to assess the likelihood of an older adult who is discharged from hospital suffering from medication-related harm and predicts whether they need further NHS care.  

Recent studies have shown that more than a third of older patients experience medication-related harm following hospital discharge. Apart from causing harm to patients and significant distress to their families and carers, it is associated with at a significant cost to the NHS estimated at £396 million annually.

Researchers at Brighton and Sussex Medical School (BSMS), working in collaboration with King’s College London developed the new tool to provide practitioners with a patient’s absolute risk of medication-related harm following hospital discharge, and policy makers with a tool that identifies those that will consume healthcare resources as a consequence. 

The PRIME tool includes eight routinely collected pieces of information relating to patients: age, gender, number of medicines taken, taking antiplatelet and diabetes medications, sodium level, previous adverse drug reaction, and living alone. Including these eight determinants in a mathematical formula/tool provided predictive information on whether an individual patient is likely to suffer medication-related harm in the eight weeks period after leaving hospital.

Professor Chakravarthi Rajkumar, Chair of Geriatrics and Stroke Medicine at BSMS, and academic lead of the study said: “In our ageing population, the use of multiple medications is common. All too often patients can suffer harm from their medicines, rather than benefit from them. By identifying those most at risk of MRH, the PRIME tool can help general practitioners, pharmacists and allied health professionals to implement interventions to help minimise the risk of such harm.”

The study involved more than 1,200 patients from five hospitals in the south of England. Of these, approximately one in six patients suffered medication-related harm from adverse drug reactions.