Send to

Choose Destination
Arch Intern Med. 2006 Dec 11-25;166(22):2525-31.

Potentially unintended discontinuation of long-term medication use after elective surgical procedures.

Author information

Department of Medicine, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.



Transitions between health care settings represent vulnerable periods for medical error. Discontinuation of long-term medication use may occur during discharge from the hospital to the community.


We performed a population-based, cohort study using administrative records from Ontario, Canada, between April 1, 1997, and September 30, 2002. We studied all residents 66 years and older with continuous use of warfarin, 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A (HMG-CoA) reductase inhibitors (statins), or beta-blocker ophthalmic drops for 1 or more years. Those who had an overnight hospitalization for selected elective surgical procedures were compared with 2 control groups: one that had an ambulatory procedure and one that had no procedures. All groups were assessed for the outcome of failure to renew the prescription within 6 months.


Rates of drug treatment discontinuation after overnight hospitalizations, after ambulatory procedures, and after no procedures were 11.4%, 7.5%, and 4.8%, respectively, in the warfarin group; 4.0%, 3.9%, and 3.9%, respectively, in the statin group; and 8.4%, 8.9%, and 7.9%, respectively, in the ophthalmic drops group. The adjusted odds ratio (OR) was 2.6 (95% confidence interval [CI], 2.0-3.4) for discontinuation of warfarin therapy after overnight hospitalizations and 1.6 (95% CI, 1.4-1.7) after ambulatory procedures. In contrast, there was no increased risk of discontinuing treatment with either statins (OR for overnight hospitalization, 1.0 [95% CI, 0.9-1.2]; OR for ambulatory procedure, 1.0 [95% CI 1.0-1.1]) or ophthalmic drops (OR for overnight hospitalization, 1.0 [95% CI, 0.8-1.5]; OR for ambulatory procedure, 1.1 [95% CI, 1.0-1.2]).


Patients prescribed long-term therapy with warfarin were at risk for potentially unintended medication discontinuation after elective procedures. Patients prescribed statins or beta-blocker ophthalmic drops were not at increased risk.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Silverchair Information Systems
Loading ...
Support Center