R&D News: Adverse drug events are costly to healthcare system
The research team, led by Dr. Corinne Hohl, emergency physician at Vancouver General Hospital and research scientist with the Centre for Clinical Epidemiology and Evaluation at Vancouver Coastal Health and the University of British Columbia, studied the health outcomes of patients who had presented to the emergency department with an adverse drug event and compared them to patients who presented for other reasons.
An adverse drug event is an unwanted and unintended medical event related to the use of medications.
After adjustment for baseline differences between patient groups, researchers found no difference in the mortality rate of the patients they studied, but those presenting with an adverse drug event had a 50 percent greater risk of spending additional days in hospital, as well as a 20 percent higher rate of outpatient healthcare needs. The team followed 1,000 emergency department patients from Vancouver General Hospital for six months.
Dr. Hohl said: â€œWhat we are finding is that these incidents are common and costly, both in terms of patient health and utilization of health care dollars. We also know that these events are hard for physicians to recognize, and that nearly 70 percent of these incidents are preventable.â€
In British Columbia (BC) alone, hospital emergency departments treat an estimated 210,000 patients each year for adverse drug events. The most common reasons for them are adverse drug reactions or side effects to medication, non adherence, and the wrong or suboptimal use of medication.
The research team estimates that the cost of treating these patients is 90 percent greater than the cost of treating other patients after adjustment for differences in baseline characteristics. The added cost could be as much as $49m annually.
The research team has been developing screening tools to better assist health care providers in the emergency department in recognizing patients at high risk for adverse drug events, as well as developing an evaluation platform that will help inform prescribing practices for physicians in the community.
â€œWe anticipate the development of a screening tool will be able to increase the recognition rate of these adverse drug events from 60 to over 90 percent, and we will be able to treat the patient effectively and rapidly, improving his or her care,â€ says Dr. Hohl.
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