Appropriate and Potentially Inappropriate Medication Use in Decompensated Cirrhosis

Mary J. Thomson, Anna S.F. Lok, Elliot B. Tapper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Background and Aims: Patients with decompensated cirrhosis are prescribed numerous medications. Data are limited as to whether patients are receiving medications they need and avoiding those they do not. We examined a large national claims database (2010-2015) to characterize the complete medication profile as well as the factors associated with appropriate and potentially inappropriate medication use in 12,621 patients with decompensated cirrhosis. Approach and Results: Clinical guidelines and existing literature were used to determine appropriate and potentially inappropriate medications in decompensated cirrhosis. The total medication days’ supply was calculated from pharmacy data and divided by the follow-up period for each decompensation. Ascites was the most common (86.5%), followed by hepatic encephalopathy (HE; 37.8%), variceal bleeding (VB; 17.5%), hepatorenal syndrome (6.3%), and spontaneous bacterial peritonitis (SBP; 6.1%). For patients with ascites, 55.8% filled a diuretic. For patients with HE, 32.4% and 63.3% filled rifaximin and lactulose, respectively. After VB, 60.3% of patients filled a nonselective beta blocker, and after an episode of SBP, 48.0% of patients filled an antibiotic for prophylaxis. The minority (4.5%-17.3%) had enough medication to cover >50% follow-up days. Potentially inappropriate medication use was common: 53.2% filled an opiate, 46.0% proton pump inhibitors, 14.2% benzodiazepines, and 10.1% nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Disease severity markers were associated with more appropriate mediation use but not consistently associated with less inappropriate medication use. Conclusions: Patients with decompensated cirrhosis are not filling indicated medications as often or as long as is recommended and are also filling medications that are potentially harmful. Future steps include integrating pharmacy records with medical records to obtain a complete medication list and counseling on medication use with patients at each visit.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2429-2440
Number of pages12
Issue number6
StatePublished - Sep 10 2020

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© 2020 by the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases.


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