Drug Side Effects Plague 1 in 7 Hospital PatientsFeb 12, 2009 | Parker Waichman LLP
A recent study has revealed that adverse drug reactions (ADRs) at hospitals are more commonplace than first believed. The University of Liverpool study of over 3,000 patients indicates that one in seven hospital admissions experiences an adverse—often dangerous, sometimes deadly—medical treatment reaction reported Science Daily.
The research was conducted in collaboration with Liverpool John Moores University and the Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospital Trust and is published in PLoS ONE, the journal of the Public Library of Science.
Although ADRs account for most hospital admissions, there was insufficient information on ADRs following hospital admission, so the University of Liverpool researchers analyzed the reactions of patients from 12 hospital wards over a six-month time frame and found that 15 percent experienced one or more adverse reactions, reported Science Daily. Adverse reactions included constipation, confusion, renal problems, bleeding, and infection with Clostridium difficle. BBC noted ADRs also included even more serious complications such as internal bleeding and death. PharmaTimes indicated that the research revealed that about 50 percent of the ADRs were avoidable.
Anticoagulants, analgesics, and diuretics were the drugs most often linked to ADRs, which also increased the length of hospital stay by one-quarter of a day; elderly patients taking an array of drugs represented the most vulnerable group, said Science Daily.
The BBC said that the researchers concluded that hospitals in Great Britain have to improve both monitoring and prescribing practices, while doctors agreed that the ADR situation was a “major problem” and improvements are called for. The study also revealed that deaths occurred in 14 cases in which ADRs were a contributing factor and one a direct cause, said BBC. Also, in about one-fifth of the cases, medication was initiated outside of the hospital environment, but the ADR and its monitoring and continued dosing occurred during hospital treatment, said BBC News. The findings, said BBC, are similar to findings reported in other studies worldwide.
Lead researcher Professor Munir Pirmohamed said, "Hospitals should look to improve their monitoring of patients and doctors should also consider in what situations patients are given drugs, how long they are put on them, and consider if it is always necessary," quoted the BBC. Jonathan Fielden, chairman of the British Medical Association's consultants committee, noted the problem is international in scope saying, quoted BBC, "It is vital that doctors and patients understand the need to regularly review prescriptions and personally tailor treatment to clinical need." Fielden also said that the research is “further evidence of an international problem that requires healthcare teams, led by doctors, to ensure the safest prescribing practices possible,” quoted PharmaTimes.
The study was the largest prospective study of its kind, which looked at ADRs in in-patient hospital patients being treated in the UK, said PharmaTimes. The six-month period reviewed was in 2005 and 3,695 patients were assessed, with 545 experiencing a variety of reactions, including renal failure and one death, said PharmaTimes. Antibiotics and opioid-based painkillers were also involved and each additional medication increased the risk of ADR by 1.14.