Is cimetidine being prescribed indiscriminately? An analytic survey of patients who present with symptoms of peptic ulcer disease.
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An analytic survey was done to determine the influence of previously documented peptic ulcer disease (PUD) on the frequency of prescribing cimetidine to patients who present at a family medicine centre with symptoms of PUD. It was found that of 293 patients who presented with such symptoms over 1 year cimetidine was prescribed to 57 (19%). From the 236 patients who did not receive cimetidine 57 patients were selected at random for comparison. Information on these two groups of patients was obtained by chart review. The patients who received cimetidine were found to be significantly more likely (p less than 0.001) to have previously documented PUD than those who did not receive cimetidine. In patients in whom subsequent confirmation of PUD was not obtained, either because the results of investigations were negative or because the investigations were not ordered, cimetidine was prescribed to 63% of those who had previously documented PUD, compared with only 6% of those who did not. Of the patients who were investigated 73% of those with previously documented PUD had positive results, compared with 8% of those without previously documented PUD. The positive results were obtained by endoscopic examination in 88% of the patients with previously documented PUD, whereas upper gastrointestinal tract roentgenography was the definitive test in 73% of the patients without previously documented PUD. These findings suggest that previously documented PUD influences both the frequency of prescribing cimetidine and the investigations that are carried out.
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