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Am J Public Health. 2010 Apr;100(4):756-61. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2008.154591. Epub 2009 Sep 17.

Medication prescribing practices for older prisoners in the Texas prison system.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco, CA, USA.



We sought to assess appropriateness of medication prescribing for older Texas prisoners.


In this 12-month cross-sectional study of 13 117 prisoners (aged > or = 55 years), we assessed medication use with Zhan criteria and compared our results to prior studies of community prescribing. We assessed use of indicated medications with 6 Assessing Care of Vulnerable Elders indicators.


Inappropriate medications were prescribed to a third of older prisoners; half of inappropriate use was attributable to over-the-counter antihistamines. When these antihistamines were excluded, inappropriate use dropped to 14% (> or = 55 years) and 17% (> or = 65 years), equivalent to rates in a Department of Veterans Affairs study (17%) and lower than rates in a health maintenance organization study (26%). Median rate of indicated medication use for the 6 indicators was 80% (range = 12%-95%); gastrointestinal prophylaxis for patients on nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories at high risk for gastrointestinal bleed constituted the lowest rate.


Medication prescribing for older prisoners in Texas was similar to that for older community adults. However, overuse of antihistamines and underuse of gastrointestinal prophylaxis suggests a need for education of prison health care providers in appropriate prescribing practices for older adults.

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