European Journal of Clinical Pharmacology

, Volume 70, Issue 1, pp 1–11 | Cite as

Inappropriate prescribing: a systematic overview of published assessment tools

  • Carole P. KaufmannEmail author
  • Regina Tremp
  • Kurt E. Hersberger
  • Markus L. Lampert
Review Article



Criteria to assess the appropriateness of prescriptions might serve as a helpful guideline during professional training and in daily practice, with the aim to improve a patient’s pharmacotherapy.


To create a comprehensive and structured overview of existing tools to assess inappropriate prescribing.


Systematic literature search in Pubmed (1991–2013). The following properties of the tools were extracted and mapped in a structured way: approach (explicit, implicit), development method (consensus technique, expert panel, literature based), focused patient group, health care setting, and covered aspects of inappropriate prescribing.


The literature search resulted in 46 tools to assess inappropriate prescribing.Twenty-eight (61%) of 46 tools were explicit, 8 (17%) were implicit and 10 (22%) used a mixed approach. Thirty-six (78%) tools named older people as target patients and 10 (22%) tools did not specify the target age group. Four (8.5%) tools were designed to detect inappropriate prescribing in hospitalised patients, 9 (19.5%) focused on patients in ambulatory care and 6 (13%) were developed for use in long-term care. Twenty-seven (59%) tools did not specify the health care setting. Consensus methods were applied in the development of 19 tools (41%), the others were based on either simple expert panels (13; 28%) or on a literature search (11; 24%). For three tools (7%) the development method was not described.


This overview reveals the characteristics of 46 assessment tools and can serve as a summary to assist readers in choosing a tool, either for research purposes or for daily practice use.


Drug-related problems inappropriate prescribing assessment tool drug safety 


Conflicts of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

Contributions of authors statement (with relevance to the ICMJE Guidelines)

C. P. Kaufmann: Contribution to the study design and the analysis and interpretation of data, involvement in the literature search, manuscript writing, final approval of the version to be published.

R. Tremp: Contribution to the study design and the analysis and interpretation of data, conducted the literature search and the mapping of the different tools.

K.E. Hersberger: Manuscript review and final approval of the version to be published.

M.L. Lampert: Contribution to the study design and the analysis and interpretation of data, manuscript review and final approval of the version to be published


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Carole P. Kaufmann
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Regina Tremp
    • 1
  • Kurt E. Hersberger
    • 1
  • Markus L. Lampert
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Pharmaceutical Care Research GroupUniversity of BaselBaselSwitzerland
  2. 2.Clinical pharmacyKantonsspital BasellandBruderholzSwitzerland

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