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Objective: The aim was to audit the use, indications, complications and patient information regarding HCQ treatment in rheumatology clinics in a tertiary referral centre. Methods: During a 9-month period, we identified all patients prescribed HCQ and attending rheumatology clinics in one hospital. We established: (i) the indication for HCQ; (ii) the prevalence of HCQ overdosing based on absolute body weight (ABW); (iii) documentation of warning of risk of retinal toxicity; (iv) systemic and ocular co-morbidities; (v) ocular symptoms during treatment; and (vi) reasons for stopping HCQ. Results: We identified 427 patients (104 male and 323 female). The cumulative dose of HCQ was lower in RA (median 365 g; range 6-1752 g) compared with SLE (450 g; 66-1788 g) (P = 0.105). The median duration of HCQ therapy was 4 years (range 0.1-13 years); 28% of patients with RA and 29% with SLE continued HCQ beyond 5 years. After adjusting for ABW and renal function, 10% (31/312) had been prescribed doses exceeding recommendations. Formal documentation of counselling on ocular complications was found in only one-third of patients. Three cases of HCQ retinopathy were identified (all of whom had RA). Conclusion: HCQ therapy is being used for >5 years in 29% of patients with rheumatic diseases, with higher than recommended doses in ∼10% of patients. We recommend more rigorous scrutiny of the use of HCQ to reduce the risk of retinopathy.

Original publication




Journal article


Rheumatol adv pract

Publication Date





hydroxychloroquine, ophthalmological screening, retinal toxicity, rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus