Number of Kenyans prescribed wrong drugs incredibly high – study

By Gatonye Gathura

The number of patients getting wrong drug prescriptions in Kenya is just mind boggling as shown at a Mission hospital in Western Kenya.

An in-house report at AIC Litein Hospital in Kericho Country shows more than half of surgery patients at the facility may be getting inappropriate antibiotics.

In a year-long study, led by Ruth Chepkemoi Talaam of the Department of Surgery, 45.4 per cent of patients were wrongly prescribed for preventive antibiotics, 33.4 for treatment, 40.1 per cent during hospitalization and 52 per cent on discharge.

This, the report authors say is not an exception at  the facility but widespread  throughout Kenya’s heath care system.

Many patients the report, appearing in the Pan African Medical Journal shows were given antibiotics even when their conditions did not require such medicines.

Many patients were prescribed the wrong antibiotics, for too long, discharged with unnecessary medicines or without any diagnostic evidence.

The report shows up to 45 per cent of surgery patients to have been put on antibiotics for unnecessarily prolonged periods.

There was also overuse of the more expensive intravenous drug administration even where oral medication would have been sufficient.

The team also reports an irrational desire among health workers to give antibiotics to discharged patients even when it was totally unnecessary.

Interestingly, more than one-third of the patients who had not been on any antibiotic during their hospitalization were discharged with antibiotics for up to five days.

The main causes for the wrong prescription of antibiotics, the study shows to be poor disease diagnosis, low use of lab services, delay in getting lab results and poor understanding of prescription guidelines by health workers

This irrational use of medicines, authors say lead to increased costs for the patient, drug toxicity, drug resistance, poor patient outcomes and prolonged hospitalizations

“Infections caused by resistant organisms are associated with prolonged length of stay, more deaths, and higher overall costs compared to non-resistant organisms.”

The authors recommend improved documentation, evaluation of the need for antibiotics, antibiotic guidelines and better supervision of prescriptions at discharge.

AIC Litein Hospital is a referral faith-based facility in Western Kenya, Kericho County, with a 200-bed capacity, serving a population of up to 400,000

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