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Revista Clínica de Medicina de Familia

On-line version ISSN 2386-8201Print version ISSN 1699-695X


PAGAN NUNEZ, Francisco Tomás  and  TEJADA CIFUENTES, Francisco. Prescription cascade and desprescription. Rev Clin Med Fam [online]. 2012, vol.5, n.2, pp.111-119. ISSN 2386-8201.

A prescribing cascade occurs when a new medicine is prescribed to 'treat' an adverse reaction to another drug in the mistaken belief that a new medical condition requiring treatment has developed. Adverse outcomes associated with prescribing cascades can result when the second drug increases the severity of the adverse reaction to the first drug or when the second drug places the patient at risk of additional adverse drug reactions. The key to preventing prescribing cascades lies in the avoidance and early detection of adverse drug reactions and an increased awareness and recognition of the potential for adverse reactions. Medicines have adverse effects and the use of multiple medicines, polypharmacy, can be associated with poorer outcomes. Health professionals need to recognise when medicines should be ceased and how to deprescribe. Deprescribing could be considered when there is polypharmacy, adverse drug reactions, ineffective treatment, falls or when treatment goals have changed. If patients are slowly weaned off their medicines, withdrawal and rebound syndromes are usually not serious. A cautious approach to deprescribing includes two principles - stop one drug at a time and wean doses slowly over weeks and months.

Keywords : Prescribing cascade; Adverse effects; Polypharmacy; Drug withdrawal.

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