Adverse drug reactions: a cohort study in internal medicine units at a university hospital
Objective: Adverse drug reactions (ADRs) are a major cause of hospital admission and in-hospital morbidity. Departments of internal medicine are at the forefront of this problem. To increase the knowledge base, we did a study of the frequency, hazard function, avoidability, and cost of ADRs as a cause for admission in internal medicine, or when occurring after admission. Methods: This prospective cohort study was based on all admissions to an internal medicine unit over a 4-month period. Patients were intensively followed in order to assess any ADR occurring during the hospital stay. Causality, direct costs, and preventability were assessed. Results: Of 444 admissions (2569 patient-days), 156 ADRs occurred in 116 patients (26.1% of all admissions); 95 (21.4%) of these had ADRs at admission, which were the reason for admission in 32 (7.2%). Twenty-one patients (4.7%) presented with 26 ADRs during hospitalization. The in-hospital ADR incidence rate was 10.1 per 1000 patient-days. The cost of ADRs leading to hospitalization was estimated at Euro 11,357 per hospital bed per year. Eighty percent of ADRs could be considered preventable. Conclusion: ADRs in hospitalized patients are common and often preventable. Since most ADRs occurred before admission, prevention strategies should preferentially target primary health care providers.