Prospective Assessment of Inpatient Boxed Warning Prescriber Adherence

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To evaluate medication boxed warning nonadherence in the inpatient setting.


This was a prospective cohort quality improvement project approved by our institution’s Total Quality Council. General medicine and ICU patients 18 years and older were included if they were cared for by a prescriber-led multidisciplinary team that included a pharmacist. Patients were evaluated for medication orders with an actionable boxed warning; if boxed warning nonadherence occurred, the physician’s reason was determined. Patients with boxed warning nonadherence were monitored for adverse drug reactions until discharge.


A total of 393 patients (224 general medicine and 169 ICU) were evaluated for nonadherence to 149 actionable boxed warnings. There were 293 drugs (175 general medicine and 118 ICU) with boxed warnings prescribed, and more than 50% of these were medications restarted from home. A total of 23 boxed warning nonadherences occurred in general medicine patients, and NSAIDs accounted for 81% of these events. ICU patients experienced 11 boxed warning nonadherences, with nearly 54% from anti-infectives and immunosuppressants. Antipsychotics were the most commonly ordered boxed warning medication class in ICU patients. Reasons for nonadherence included knowledge deficit and an acceptable risk-to-benefit ratio. Two adverse drug reactions occurred from boxed warning nonadherences, both because of a drug-drug interaction.


Boxed warning nonadherence is a concern in the inpatient setting, specifically with NSAID use in general medicine patients and antipsychotic use in ICU patients. More than half of boxed warning nonadherence occurred in medications restarted from home, which emphasizes the need for medication evaluation during transitions of care.

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