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Meclizine prescriptions in the Emergency Department and return visits in the elderly population

Published on: 11th June, 2021

OCLC Number/Unique Identifier: 9124652483

Background: Meclizine is a commonly prescribed medication for patients discharged from the Emergency Department (ED) with a diagnosis of peripheral vertigo, however it is on the Beers list of medications to avoid in elderly patients. Objectives: This study aims to determine the correlation between use of meclizine and return visits to the ED within 1 week in patients > 65 years old. Methods: This is a retrospective observational study conducted at 2 urban tertiary care EDs over 5 years. Inclusion criteria included patients > 65 years who were given meclizine in the ED or discharged with a prescription. Charts were reviewed for diagnosis, prescriptions and return visits within 7 days. Results: There were a total of 1608 patients over 65 years of age who met inclusion criteria, 669 patients identified as receiving meclizine in the ED and 962 who received no meclizine (ED or ED plus home prescription). Of the meclizine patients, 548 (84.8%) were given home prescriptions, of which there were 36 (6.6%) return visits within 7 days. Patients who were given meclizine while in the ED without home prescriptions (121) had 16 return visits (13.2%). Among the non-meclizine group, 102 patients (10.6%) had a return visit within 7 days. Conclusion: There was no increase in return visits in elderly patients discharged from the ED with a prescription for meclizine after a diagnosis of benign dizziness. Meclizine prescriptions at discharge were associated with fewer return visits to the ED within 1 week. Ongoing dizziness was the most common reason for return visits; there were no documented chief complaints of weakness, syncope/falls, or hypotension.
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