Study reveals high level of adverse drug reactions in hospitals

February 11, 2009

In a study of more than 3,000 patients, researchers at the University of Liverpool have found that one in seven admitted to hospital experience adverse drug reactions to medical treatment.

Adverse drug reactions (ADRs) are a major cause of hospital admissions, but recent data on ADRs that develop following hospital treatment is lacking. To further understanding of the clinical characteristics of ADRs, researchers at Liverpool assessed drug reactions of patients on 12 hospital wards over a six-month period.

Researchers found that 15% of patients admitted to hospital experienced one or more adverse reactions, which included constipation, confusion, renal problems, bleeding and infection with Clostridium difficle. Drugs most commonly associated with ADRs were anticoagulants, analgesics and diuretics.

The team also found that ADRs increased the length of a patient's hospital stay by an average of 0.25 days, and that those most susceptible were elderly patients on a number of different medications.

Professor Munir Pirmohamed, from the University's School of Biomedical Sciences, said: "We previously found that approximately a quarter of a million people are admitted to hospital in the UK each year following adverse drug reactions to a variety of commonly prescribed drugs, but we had very little data on ADRs experienced as a result of hospital treatment. We studied patients admitted to wards in Merseyside hospitals and analysed suspected ADRs for causality and severity.

"A significant predictor of ADRs in hospitals is the number of medications a patient is taking; each additional drug treatment increases the risk of experiencing an adverse drug reaction. This is one of the reasons why elderly people experience a higher incidence of ADRs than young people, as they have more health conditions and generally take more medications.

"Our results show that the overall burden of ADRs on hospitals is high and therefore new methods of intervention are needed to reduce this. The results are consistent with data from other parts of the world and this is therefore not just an issue for Merseyside hospitals, but hospitals throughout the Western world.

"We are currently looking at a number of ways of improving the safety of medicines, including increased monitoring of patients and the identification of genetic factors that could increase the risk of a patient developing adverse effects. Our ultimate aim is to use a number of inter-related methods to allow us to maximise the benefits of medicines and minimise the harm."

The research, in collaboration with Liverpool John Moores University and the Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospital Trust, is published in PLoS ONE.

Source: University of Liverpool

Explore further: Adverse drug events costly to health care system: research

Related Stories

Adverse drug events costly to health care system: research

February 25, 2011

Patients who suffer an adverse medical event arising from the use or misuse of medications are more costly to the health care system than other emergency department (ED) patients, say physicians and research scientists at ...

Adverse drug events: a large burden in pediatric care

September 28, 2009

( -- An 11year national analysis at Children's Hospital Boston shows that side effects or accidental overdoses of medications are a common complication of outpatient care in children, generating more than half ...

Temporary fix helps patients around drug allergy

April 12, 2010

(AP) -- Having a bad reaction to penicillin as a child doesn't guarantee you're still allergic decades later. And if the oncologist says you have to switch chemotherapies because of an allergic reaction, well, maybe not.

Recommended for you

How the finch changes its tune

August 3, 2015

Like top musicians, songbirds train from a young age to weed out errors and trim variability from their songs, ultimately becoming consistent and reliable performers. But as with human musicians, even the best are not machines. ...

Machine Translates Thoughts into Speech in Real Time

December 21, 2009

( -- By implanting an electrode into the brain of a person with locked-in syndrome, scientists have demonstrated how to wirelessly transmit neural signals to a speech synthesizer. The "thought-to-speech" process ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.