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J Crit Care. 2014 Dec;29(6):955-60. doi: 10.1016/j.jcrc.2014.06.025. Epub 2014 Jun 30.

Pharmacoepidemiology of stress ulcer prophylaxis in the United States and Canada.

Author information

Department of Pharmacy Practice Midwestern University, College of Pharmacy, Glendale, AZ. Electronic address:
The Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, Clinical Pharmacy Specialist, The Ottawa Hospital, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Electronic address:
Department of Clinical Pharmacy, University of Colorado, Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Aurora, CO. Electronic address:
Department of Pharmacy Services, University of Chicago Medical Center, Chicago, IL. Electronic address:
Department of Pharmacy Practice and Science, University of Arizona, College of Pharmacy, Tucson, AZ. Electronic address:



This study sought to identify the medication class most commonly prescribed for stress ulcer prophylaxis (SUP), assess trends in SUP utilization, and report the use of acid suppressive therapy stratified by bleeding risk.


This multicenter, prospective, point prevalence study reviewed adult patients over a 24-hour period for demographics, medications used for SUP, and risk factors for clinically important bleeding. Stress ulcer prophylaxis was deemed appropriate if acid suppressive therapy was administered to patients at high risk for bleeding or no therapy in patients considered at low bleeding risk. High risk was defined as the presence of mechanical ventilation, coagulopathy, or shock. For patients receiving acid suppression before hospital admission, SUP was considered appropriate if the same drug class was continued regardless of risk factors. A planned subgroup analysis was conducted whereby patients on acid suppressive medications before admission were excluded.


There were 584 patients from 58 intensive care units in 27 hospitals. The most common drug class was proton pump inhibitors (70%). Despite receiving other enteral/oral medications, 36% received intravenous acid suppressive therapy. Overall, SUP was considered appropriate in 78% of patients and 68% when patients on acid suppression before admission were excluded. When stratified by risk, acid suppressive medications were used in 92% of high-risk patients and 71% of low-risk patients.


Stress ulcer prophylaxis is frequently administered to patients who are not at high risk for clinically important bleeding. Proton pump inhibitors are the overwhelming first choice among practitioners. Several opportunities exist for improvement regarding the provision of SUP.


Epidemiology; Histamine-2-receptor antagonists; Intensive care unit; Proton pump inhibitors; Stress ulcer prophylaxis

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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