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Top 100 Most-Prescribed Medications in UK Hospitals

We take a look at the 100 most-prescribed medication in hospitals around the UK.

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We take a look at the 100 most-prescribed medications in hospitals around the UK.

We have created a list of the most popular prescribed medications in UK hospitals. This list if by no means definitive or exhaustive and is designed as a learning tool only. The information has been taken from various sources including the NHSBS audit of prescribed medications. 

You can download a copy of this list in PDF format. 

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Some items may appear in more than one category as they have primary and secondary usages i.e. Amitriptyline is an antidepressant but is also used as analgesia for chronic pain.

Analgesics

Analgesics or painkillers are drugs that help relieve pain and usually fall into one of several categories; opioids, nonopioids, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) and ‘other’.

  • Paracetamol.
  • Ibuprofen.
  • Co-codamol (paracetamol and codeine mix)
  • Codeine.
  • Tramadol.
  • Morphine.
  • Diclofenac.
  • Asprin.
  • Naproxen.
  • Dihydrocodeine.
  • Oxycodone.
  • Nefopam.
  • Gabapentin.
  • Fentanyl.
  • Ketamine.

Long and short acting variants such as Zomorph, Oxycontin and MST should also be considered.

Antiarrhythmics

Antiarrhythmics are used to suppress abnormal rhythms of the heart (cardiac arrhythmias), such as atrial fibrillation, atrial flutter, ventricular tachycardia, and ventricular fibrillation.

  • Bisoprolol.
  • Atenolol.
  • Digoxin.
  • Amiodarone.
  • Adenosine.
  • Diltiazem.

Antibiotics

Antibiotics are used to help the body fight infection and these are usually administered orally or intravenously (IV). They usually fall into one of several categories; penicillins, cephalosporins, aminoglycosides, tetracyclines, macrolides and fluoroquinolones.

  • Amoxicillin.
  • Flucloxacillin.
  • Meropenem.
  • Vancomycin.
  • Gentamycin.
  • Clarithromycin.
  • Co-amoxiclav.
  • Doxycycline.
  • Ceftazidime.
  • Piperacillin / Tazobactam (tazocin).
  • Ciprofloxacin.
  • Levofloxacin.
  • Cephalexin.
  • Cefuroxime.
  • Clindamycin.
  • Trimethoprim.
  • Nitrofurantoin.

Anticoagulants

Anticoagulants, commonly referred to as blood thinners, are chemical substances that prevent or reduce coagulation of blood, prolonging the clotting time.

  • Warfarin.
  • Rivaroxaban.
  • Apixaban.
  • Enoxaparin.
  • Funderparinex.
  • Heparin.

Anticonvulsants

Anticonvulsants are a diverse group of pharmacological agents used in the treatment of both epileptic and non-epileptic seizures.

  • Sodium valproate (Epilim).
  • Phenytoin.
  • Levetiracetam (Keppra).
  • Gabapentin.
  • Clonazepam
  • Diazapam.
  • Lorazepam.
  • Carbamazepine.

Antidepressants

Antidepressants are drugs used for the treatment of depressive disorders and usually fall into one of the following categories; selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), serotonin-noradrenaline reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), noradrenaline and specific serotonergic antidepressants (NASSAs) and tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs).

  • Citalopram.
  • Fluoxetine.
  • Amitriptyline.
  • Sertraline.
  • Venlafaxine.
  • Mirtazapine.
  • Trazodone.

Antiemetics

Antiemetics are drugs used to treat vomiting and nausea and are typically used to treat motion sickness and the side effects of opioid analgesics, general anaesthetics and chemotherapy directed against cancer.

  • Cyclizine.
  • Ondansetron.
  • Metoclopramide.
  • Prochlorperazine.
  • Levomepromazine.

Antihypertensives

Antihypertensives are used to treat hypertension and usually fall into one of several categories; angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, calcium channel blockers (CCBs), angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs) and beta-blockers. You should also see Diuretics. 

  • Ramipril.
  • Doxazosin.
  • Candesartan.
  • Losartan.
  • Lisinopril.
  • Atenolol.
  • Bisoprolol.
  • Amlodipine.
  • Diltiazem.
  • Nifedipine.

Antihyperglycemics

Antihyperglycemics are used in the treatments of raised blood sugars, typically in diabetic patients.

  • Metformin.
  • Insulin.
  • Gliclazide.

Bronchodilators

Bronchodilators are used to help make breathing easier by relaxing the muscles in the lungs and widening of the bronchi.

  • Salbutamol.
  • Ipratropium.
  • Tiotropium.
  • Theophylline.

Diuretics

Diuretics are drugs that increased the production of urine these usually fall into one of several categories; loop diuretics, potassium-sparing diuretics and thiazides.

  • Furosemide.
  • Bumetanide.
  • Spironolactone.
  • Bendroflumethiazide.
  • Indapamide.
  • Amiloride.

Intravenous Fluids

Intravenous Fluids are infusion fluids and usually fall into one of two categories; colloid and crystalloid and can include supplements such as potassium and magnesium.

  • Normal Saline.
  • Plasmalyte.
  • Hartmann’s solution.
  • Geloplasma / Plasmalyte.
  • Glucose.

Sedatives

Sedatives are a group of medications that are using for a calming effect. They can be used to promote sleep, ease withdrawal symptoms or reduce agitation and irritability.

  • Zopiclone.
  • Haloperidol.
  • Lorazepam.
  • Midazolam.
  • Diazepam.
  • Chlordiazepoxide.
  • Temazepam.
  • Phenobarbitol.

Statins

Statins or lipid-lowering medications are a group of medications that have been found to lower the level of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol in the blood. Usually, they are prescribed to help reduce the risk of; stroke, coronary heart disease, heart attacks and angina.

  • Simvastatin.
  • Atorvastatin.
  • Pravastatin.

Supplements

Supplements are medications that generally include hormones, vitamins, minerals, fibre, fatty acids or amino acids and other substances.

  • Levothyroxine
  • Adcal / Calcichew.
  • Ferrous Fumarate.
  • Ferrous Sulphate.
  • Multivitamins.
  • Thiamine.
  • Cholecalciferol.
  • Quinine.
  • Folic Acid.
  • Sandoz-K
  • Sandoz-Phosphate
  • Slow sodium.
  • Alendronic Acid.

Laxatives

Laxatives are used to treat either acute or chronic constipation and usually fall into one of the following categories; bulk-forming, osmotic, stimulant or stool softening.

  • Lactulose.
  • Senna.
  • Movicol.
  • Sodium Docusate.
  • Bisacodyl.
  • Phosphate Enema.
  • Microlax Enema.
  • Glycerine Suppositories.

Proton Pump Inhibitors

Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs) are a group of drugs whose main action is the reduction in gastric acid production.

  • Omeprazole.
  • Lansoprazole.
  • Esomeprazole.
  • Ranitidine (H2-receptor-blocker).
  • Peptac. 

Clinical Care

Hourly rounding ‘may not be the best way for nurses to deliver care’, finds study

Hourly rounding places an emphasis on ‘tick box’ care.

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Nurse with patient in bed

Hourly rounding made a minor contribution, if at all, to the way nurses engage with patients.

A new report by researchers at King’s College London has found that the widespread practice of hourly or intentional rounding, may not be the best way for nurses to deliver care to patients.

The report also found that rounding makes a minor contribution, if at all, to the way nurses engage with patients.

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Hourly or intentional rounding involves standardised regular checks with individual patients at set intervals and was introduced in hospitals in England in 2013, with 97% of NHS acute Trusts in England implementing it in some way.

The majority of NHS trusts adopted the ‘4Ps’ (Position, Pain, Personal needs, Placement of items) model of rounding.

The research was commissioned and funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and was led by Professor Ruth Harris in the Florence Nightingale Faculty of Nursing, Midwifery & Palliative Care.

Hourly rounding places an emphasis on ‘tick box’ care.

The NIHR report – Intentional rounding in hospital wards to improve regular interaction and engagement between nurses and patients: a realist evaluation – is the first study of its kind in the world.

The study found that rounding placed an emphasis on transactional ‘tick box’ care delivery, rather than individualised care. However, patients were found to value their interactions with nursing staff, which the study argues could be delivered during other care activities and rather than through intentional rounding.

The report also found that rounding was implemented without consultation, careful planning and piloting in the interests of political expediency following the Francis Inquiry Report into care failures in the NHS.

Ruth Harris, Professor of Health Care for Older Adults at King’s College London, said; “Checking patients regularly to make sure that they are OK is really important but intentional rounding tends to prompt nurses to focus on completion of the rounding documentation rather than on the relational aspects of care delivery.

“Few frontline nursing staff or senior nursing staff felt intentional rounding improved either the quality or the frequency of their interactions with patients and their family.”

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Clinical Updates

Nurses’ ‘worry’ better than most early warning scores, finds study

Nurses were asked to grade patients between ‘no concern’ and ‘extreme concern’. 

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Observations

A sense of worry can provide important information for the detection of acute physiological deterioration.

Nurses’ worry has a “higher accuracy” than most published early warning scores (EWS) at predicting if a patient is becoming more unwell, according to a recent study.

The study looked at 31,159 patient-shifts for 3185 patients during 3551 hospitalisations across two surgical and two medical wards. Researchers compared if the nurses were worried about a patients potential for deterioration using ‘the Worry Factor’ with early warning score indicators.

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Nurses were asked to grade each patient between “no concern” and “extreme concern”.

The Worry Score

Out of 492 potential deterioration events identified, researchers found that when nurses had an increasing worry factor the patient was more likely to require emergency medical treatment – 7 cardiac arrest calls, 86 medical emergency calls and 76 transfers to the intensive care unit.

The study also revealed that accuracy rates were significantly higher in nurses with over a year of experience.

The researchers concluded that “nurses’ pattern recognition and sense of worry can provide important information for the detection of acute physiological deterioration” and was often more reliable than traditional early warning systems.

They also noted that the worry score could be used alone or easily incorporated into existing EWS to potentially improve their performance.

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