A study published in JAMA on November 22/29, 2016 estimated that the annual prevalence of emergency room visits in the United States in 2013 and 2014 for adverse drug events was 4 per 1,000 individuals, and that 27.3% of the visits resulted in hospitalization. The most common medications involved in such visits were anticoagulants, antibiotics, diabetes agents, opioid analgesics, and antipsychotics. The study used data from 58 emergency departments that participated in the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System-Cooperative Adverse Drug Event Surveillance project (NEISS-CADES) and involved 42,585 cases.
The study found that 46.9% of the emergency room visits for adverse drug events involved anticoagulants, antibiotics, and diabetes agents. The adverse events included hypoglycemia, moderate to severe allergic reaction, and hemorrhage.
The researchers found that 34.5% of the emergency room visits for adverse drug events were for adults aged 65 and older, and the emergency room visits for that age group involved anticoagulants, diabetes agents, and opioid analgesics in 59.9% of the cases. The older adults experienced the highest hospitalization rate: 43.6%.
For children five years old and younger, and those who were between six and nineteen years old, who visited an emergency room for an adverse drug event, antibiotics were the most common reason for the visit (56.4% and 31.8%, respectively). Antipsychotics, the next highest category of drugs leading to emergency room visits among these individuals, accounted for 4.5%.
The study found that the proportion of emergency room visits for adverse drug events increased for anticoagulants and diabetes agents since the last study period (i.e., 2005 to 2006), and the proportion of emergency room visits for adverse drug events for antibiotics decreased.
The study found approximately 1.3 million emergency room visits involving adverse drug events during the study period, which was an increase of almost 10% from the 2005 to 2006 time period.
Limitations In The Study
Visits to VA emergency departments and other integrated health care systems such as Kaiser Permanente were not included in the study because they are not included in the NEISS-CADES survey. There were more than 2.3 million visits to VA emergency departments in 2013.
Only about 50% of people who take medications take them as prescribed. More than 10% of people in the United States are prescribed five or more medications. As the authors of the study state, “[p]atients in ambulatory care and some postacute care settings can have complex medication regimens, at times prescribed by multiple clinicians, with far less monitoring compared with hospitalized patients.”
An editorial accompanying the published study stated, “Collaboration is needed among physicians and other health professionals in primary care, specialty care, pharmacy, and emergency medicine to answer these questions in the quest for safer models of patient care. Furthermore, this collaboration across health care locations and the continuum of care will affect how much benefit or harm patients receive from prescribed medications. Integrated health care systems can help lead the way through improved care coordination and transition of care models. The work by Shehab et al shines a spotlight on the problem of adverse drug events and highlights the need to address this important clinical issue in a more systematic and organized fashion.”
If you or a loved one suffered injuries (or worse) as a result of a prescription drug that caused you to visit an emergency room in the United States, you should promptly seek the legal advice of a medical malpractice lawyer in your state who may investigate your possible medical negligence claim for you and represent you in a medical malpractice case, if appropriate.
Visit our website or call us toll-free in the United States at 800-295-3959 to be connected with medical malpractice attorneys in your state who may assist you with your drug claim.
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