Doctors Encouraged to Review Medications to Avoid Adverse Effects

American Medical Association recently posted an article on their news site about “adverse drug events.” Adverse drug events are health issues that arise as a result of taking a medication or group of medications. An April report by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality stated 1.9 million hospitalizations a year are caused by medication side effects or medication errors. There are an additional estimated 4.5 million outpatient visits.

With 4.4 million cases of strep throat and 4.2 million cases of pneumonia reported each year, these new findings indicate that medication problems are a common occurrence. Twice as likely as their middle age counterparts and three times as likely as those 25-44, patients over 65 are at highest risk of experiencing an adverse drug event. Those who take more than six prescriptions are the most likely of all to suffer from an incident.

Adverse drug events can be caused by a number of things. These can be as unpredictable as a previously unknown allergy or as preventable as a medication dispensing error. Mistakes by a doctor prescribing the wrong medication or by the pharmacy giving the wrong dosage can lead to adverse drug events as well. In 2007, a report by the Institute of Medicine stated 1.5 million patients suffer harm each year due to preventable medication errors. The AMA suggested physicians carefully review what medications their patients are on during each visit to help prevent and identify possible adverse drug events. Doctors were also encouraged to take the time to explain how and when to take their prescription medications.



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