Endocrine Abstracts (2017) 50 P271 | DOI: 10.1530/endoabs.50.P271

Inpatient prescribed desmopressin nasal spray is omitted three times more often than desmopressin prescribed by other routes

Catherine MacFarlane1, Rachel Francis1, Bonita Amilah1, Zoya Billoo1, Gillian Cavell2, James Chudley2, Ben Fidler2, Omar Mustafa2 & Benjamin Whitelaw1,2


1King’s College London, London, UK; 2King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, London, UK.


Over the past decade there has been increased recognition of the dangers associated with inpatient management of diabetes insipidus (DI) and omission of desmopressin. An NHS England patient safety alert was issued in 2016 highlighting this risk.

Method: Using electronic prescribing records we reviewed all desmopressin prescriptions and omissions over a 12 month period in a large teaching hospital.

Results: Ninety-seven inpatients were prescribed 1367 doses of desmopressin during the year. The mean number of doses per patient was 14, with a range 1–388 doses and a median of 2 doses.

In 69% of patients (67/97) the indication was DI. Thirty patients received desmopressin for a range of other indications including haemophilia, suspected platelet dysfunction, and urinary continence problems. 77% of all doses were prescribed on neurology and neurosurgical wards.

Overall 5% of prescribed desmopressin doses were omitted (66/1367). The rate of omission was 18% for desmopressin nasal spray and 4–5% for oral or injected desmopressin (Table 1).

Table 1 Frequency of observed desmopressin dose omissions by route.
Prescribed dosesDoses omittedOmission rate %
Injection339124
Nasal561018
Oral972445
Total1367665

Discussion: Desmopressin omissions occur for both legitimate reasons (e.g. hyponatraemia) and inappropriate reasons (including lack of drug availability). This study shows that the intranasal formulation is especially likely to be omitted. The reason for this is the subject of future work, but we speculate that nasal medications (along with inhalers and eye drops) may be perceived by staff as less clinically important than oral or injectable medications.