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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Nicotine Patch Prescription Fulfillment Rates For Emergency Department Patients


Introduction: Smoking cessation has significant health benefits, and the emergency department (ED) can be an important venue for smoking cessation counseling. Nicotine replacement therapy with transdermal patches has been shown to be associated with smoking cessation in a variety of studies. This study evaluated fulfillment rates for prescriptions for nicotine replacement transdermal patches (NRT-P) from the ED.

Methods: We conducted a retrospective review of all patients receiving a prescription for a NRT-P product from January 2018–October 2019. Charts were reviewed to gather data including age, gender, presence of chronic heart or lung problems, and health insurance. We assessed the fulfillment rate of prescriptions using the Surescripts system, which is a functionality within our electronic health record system that queries participating pharmacies. Statistical analysis was conducted to determine associations between fill rates and the other variables collected from charts.

Results: We had follow-up on 500 patients prescribed nicotine patches. Of those patients, 44% filled their prescriptions. Those who filled their prescriptions were more likely to be female and have a history of chronic lung disease. Self-pay patients were least likely to fill their prescriptions. Overall, we had evidence of smoking cessation in 13% of patients.

Conclusion: This study found that a substantial proportion of patients fail to fill their NRT-P prescriptions. Further work on means of enhancing fulfillment rates is warranted.

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