Navigation Links
Pill-Splitting Potentially Perilous, Study Suggests

By Maureen Salamon
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Jan. 13 (HealthDay News) -- The common practice of pill-splitting -- done by patients and health professionals alike to save money or make medications easier to swallow -- is inaccurate and potentially dangerous, a new study suggests.

Belgian researchers found that nearly one-third of split pill fragments deviated from recommended dosages by 15 percent or more. In the study, five volunteers divided eight tablets of various sizes using three tools: a kitchen knife, scissors and a pill-splitting device.

Another 14 percent of split tablets differed from recommended dosages by 25 percent or more, according to the study. And even the most precise method (the splitting device) caused a 15 percent to 25 percent error margin in 13 percent of cases. Each pill fragment was weighed after splitting to determine how much they deviated from theoretical weight.

"In most of the cases and especially in nursing homes, medications are taken as chronic therapies. Very often, it doesn't matter clinically if the patient takes a little more drug one day and a little less the next," said study author Charlotte Verrue, an assistant academic staff member at Ghent University in Belgium.

"However," she added, "it might have consequences when the deviations are bigger [25 percent and more] and when . . . a small deviation in dosage can have an important difference in effect. Just to be safe, we advise to be careful with this splitting practice. It is not as innocent as it might seem."

Verrue said she decided to do the study after being asked by nurses in nursing homes what would be the best method for splitting tablets in daily practice, regardless of the type or size of pill or whether it had score lines.

Of the five volunteers, only one had tablet-splitting experience, Verrue said, which she believes replicates nursing home conditions where pill-splitting is not always performed by professional nurses.

The participants split eight tablets of different shapes and sizes, prescribed for conditions such as Parkinson's disease, congestive heart failure and arthritis, into 3,600 separate quarters or halves. Three tablets were unscored, three had one score line and the rest had two.

"The splitting should indeed be performed by nurses, but it is not always the case in daily practice" because of staff shortages, Verrue said. "Moreover, I don't think that nurses have a specific training in tablet splitting."

Nancy Mason, a clinical associate professor of pharmacy at the University of Michigan, said she had never heard of research similar to this.

"I thought it was a unique study and when you think about it, not surprising at all," said Mason, also director of the university's Experiential Training Program in pharmacy. "It's very good information to know. As a pharmacist, I typically don't try to tell someone to split a pill. Even when it's scored, [the practice] still has issues."

Verrue and Mason said even minute dosage deviations of certain medications can cause critical problems, including drugs for irregular heartbeat, blood clots and seizures.

Verrue called on pharmaceutical companies to produce more dose options and liquid alternatives so pill-splitting becomes increasingly unnecessary. But she acknowledged that drug makers may resist such a move because it could hurt profits.

"I think that the smaller dosages are just not interesting enough from an economical perspective," Verrue said. "Providing liquid forms would be easier, I think, than providing a broader range of tablets."

The study, reported in the January issue of the Journal of Advanced Nursing, did not receive funding from any pharmaceutical companies.

More information

For more on which pills are safe to split, go to Consumer Reports.

SOURCES: Charlotte Verrue, Ph.D., assistant academic staff member, Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Ghent University, Belgium; Nancy Mason, Pharm.D., clinical associate professor, pharmacy, and director, Experiential Training Program and Community Engagement, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor; January 2011, Journal of Advanced Nursing

Copyright©2010 ScoutNews,LLC.
All rights reserved  

Related medicine news :

1. MSU researcher links potentially deadly infection, frequent cow exposure
2. ACR, SBI: Avon Survey Reveals Potentially Deadly Effects of USPSTF Mammography Recommendations
3. Potentially Lethal Airborne Fungus May Spread to California
4. Nanotech breath sensor detects diabetes and potentially serious complication
5. Decline in Potentially Lethal Hospital-Based Infections
6. Toward safer plastics that lock in potentially harmful plasticizers
7. Despite Treatment, Employees with Depression Generate Higher Absentee Costs, According to Thomson Reuters Study
8. American Council on Exercise (ACE) Study Reveals Kettlebells Provide Powerful Workout in Short Amount of Time
9. TV drama can be more persuasive than news program, study finds
10. Study carried out into biological risks of eating reptiles
11. Neuroimaging study may pave way for effective Alzheimers treatments
Post Your Comments:
Related Image:
Pill-Splitting Potentially Perilous, Study Suggests
(Date:11/26/2015)... ... 26, 2015 , ... Somu Sivaramakrishnan announced today that he ... now offers travelers, value and care based Travel Services, including exclusive pricing on ... as, cabin upgrades and special amenities such as, shore excursions, discounted fares, travel ...
(Date:11/26/2015)... ... , ... PRMA Plastic Surgery is updating their record books yet again with ... flap breast reconstruction surgery! , “What an accomplishment for the PRMA team, says ... it’s an honor to have served all of these women.” , PRMA is one ...
(Date:11/26/2015)... Karnataka (PRWEB) , ... November ... ... innovative online platform for mental health and wellness consultation, has collaborated with ... to holistically address their reader’s queries on topics on mental and emotional ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... Indianapolis, IN (PRWEB) , ... November 25, 2015 ... ... clean water accessible for all, Water For Empowerment ™ attracts volunteers together ... on clean water by empowering women as key stakeholders in the process. The ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... ... November 25, 2015 , ... ... recognized once again for its stellar workplace culture with the company’s Cincinnati office ... , Medical Solutions’ Cincinnati office was named a finalist in Cincinnati Business Courier’s ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:11/26/2015)... 26, 2015 Research and Markets ( ) ... Pacemaker Market Outlook to 2019 - Rise in Cardiac Disorders ... report to their offering. Boston ... Boston scientific and others. --> ... Biotronik, Boston scientific and others. ...
(Date:11/26/2015)... November 26, 2015 ... the "2016 Future Horizons and Growth ... Testing Market: Supplier Shares, Country Segment Forecasts, ... their offering. --> ) ... "2016 Future Horizons and Growth Strategies in ...
(Date:11/26/2015)... November 26, 2015 ... "Self Administration of High Viscosity Drugs" report ... has announced the addition of the "Self ... their offering. --> Research and Markets ... the "Self Administration of High Viscosity Drugs" ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: