What’s New in the Patient Safety World

March 2015

Meds Cause ER Visits in Kids Too



Emergency Department visits related to medication issues are very common in adults. In our May 2011 What’s New in the Patient Safety World column “Adverse Drug Events and the ERwe cited a study from Vancouver (Hohl 2011) which found that 12.2% of patients presenting to the emergency room were there because of medication-related issues. Most were for unintended consequences of appropriately prescribed drugs. Compared to patients who did not have such reactions these patients had 50% higher rates of hospitalization, 20% higher outpatient encounters, and almost double the healthcare median monthly costs.


Now another Canadian study found an almost as many pediatric ED visits are due to medication-related issues. Zed and colleagues (Zed 2015) found that medication-related issues accounted for one in every 12 pediatric ED visits and that almost two-thirds of these were potentially preventable. Adverse drug reactions accounted for 26.4%, subtherapeutic dosage 19.0%, and nonadherence. Of these patients, 7.2% required hospitalization and medication-related issues contributed to prolonged lengths of stay.


The most commonly implicated drugs were anti-infective, respiratory, and nervous system agents.


Basically, the study highlights the fact that medication-related events lead to increased utilization of emergency department and inpatient resources not only in adults but in children as well.






Hohl CM, Nosyk B, Kuramoto L, et al. Outcomes of Emergency Department Patients Presenting With Adverse Drug Events. Ann Emerg Med 2011; online ahead of print February 28, 2011




Zed PJ, Black KJL, Fitzpatrick EA. Medication-Related Emergency Department Visits in Pediatrics: a Prospective Observational Study. Pediatrics 2015; Published online February 2, 2015






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