Drug related adverse events are on the rise

Drug related adverse outcomes rose over fifty percent in hospitals between 2004 and 2008, according to a statistical brief by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. 

These adverse outcomes include adverse drug reactions ("harm caused by a drug at normal doses"), adverse drug events ("harm caused by use of a drug"), and medication errors ("inappropriate use of a drug"). 

Key findings from the report:

  • In 2008, drug-related adverse outcomes were noted in nearly 1.9 million inpatient hospital stays
  • Corticosteroids, such as prednisone, caused 13.2 percent of all drug-related adverse outcomes.
  • Analgesics, antipyretics, and antirheumatics were the second most common general cause of drug-related adverse outcomes for both inpatient and treat-and-release ED events.
  • Over 53 percent of all inpatient stays with a drug-related adverse outcome were for patients 65 or older.

(Sources: The Advisory Board Daily Briefing, http://advisory.com, April 15, 2011; The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality Statistical Brief, http://www.hcup-us.ahrq.gov, April 2011)