Vision at risk

October 2009

Professional

Prescription medication borrowing and sharing

Risk factors and management

Volume 38, No.10, October 2009 Pages 816-819

Janette Ellis

Judy Mullan

Background

Prescription medication borrowing and sharing is a behaviour that has been identified in patients of all ages. This behaviour is recognised by medical researchers and government health authorities as a potential risk factor in adverse drug events across the community.

Objective/s

This article discusses prescription medication borrowing and sharing and identifies populations more likely to participate in this behaviour. It also focuses on the classes of drugs identified in the research literature as those being more likely to be borrowed or shared.

Discussion

Prescription medication borrowing and sharing behaviours have been associated with several risk factors such as polypharmacy and multiple chronic comorbidities. General practitioners and health professionals are therefore encouraged to counsel patients, at the time of issuing prescriptions and following discharge from hospital, on the risks of borrowing and sharing prescription medications and the safe disposal of ‘left over’ prescription medications.

Prescription medication borrowing and sharing (PMBS) is a patient behaviour that negatively affects patient quality use of medicine.1 This behaviour is recognised by medical practitioners, researchers and government health authorities as a risk factor in medication errors which results in adverse drug events (ADEs).2–4 Despite this, many studies examining the risk factors for ADEs do not directly examine PM BS behaviour. Any evidence reported usually categorises PM BS under the umbrella terms ‘medication error’2,4 or ‘medication misadventure’;5 or may be referred to obliquely as ‘use of inappropriate medicine’.4 The danger with this is that there is a risk of underestimating the impact of this behaviour on the incidence of ADEs.

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Correspondence afp@racgp.org.au

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