Evolving use of seizure medications after intracerebral hemorrhage

Evolving use of seizure medications after intracerebral hemorrhage

A multicenter study

  1. Andrew M. Naidech, MD, MSPH,
  2. Jennifer Beaumont, MS,
  3. Babak Jahromi, MD, PhD,
  4. Shyam Prabhakaran, MD, MS,
  5. Abel Kho, MD, MS and
  6. Jane L. Holl, MD, MPH



  1. Correspondence to Dr. Naidech: a-naidech@northwestern.edu
  1. Neurology January 3, 2017 vol. 88 no. 1 52-56


Objective: Prophylactic medications can be a source of preventable harm, potentially affecting large numbers of patients. Few data exist about how clinicians change prescribing practices in response to new data and revisions to guidelines about preventable harm from a prophylactic medication. We sought to determine the changes in prescribing practice of seizure medications for patients with intracerebral hemorrhage (ICH) across a metropolitan area before and after new outcomes data and revised prescribing guidelines were published.

Methods: We conducted an observational study using electronic medical record data from 4 academic medical centers in a large US metropolitan area.

Results: A total of 3,422 patients with ICH, diagnosed between 2007 and 2012, were included. In 2009, after a publication found an association of phenytoin with higher odds of dependence or death, the use of phenytoin declined from 9.6% in 2009 to 2.2% in 2012 (p < 0.00001). Conversely, the use of levetiracetam more than doubled, from 15.1% in 2007 to 35% in 2012 (p < 0.00001). Use of levetiracetam varied among the 4 institutions from 6.7% to 29.8% (p < 0.00001).

Conclusions: New data that led to revised prescribing guidelines for prophylactic seizure medications for patients with ICH were temporally associated with a significant decrease in use of the medication, potentially reducing adverse outcomes. However, a corresponding increase in the use of an alternative medication, levetiracetam, occurred despite limited knowledge about its potential effects on outcomes. Future guideline changes should anticipate and address alternatives.


  • Go to Neurology.org for full disclosures. Funding information and disclosures deemed relevant by the authors, if any, are provided at the end of the article.

  • Editorial, page 15

  • Received June 16, 2016.
  • Accepted in final form August 29, 2016.


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