Objectives The frequency and the severity of drug-related visits in emergency department (ED) make the improvement of adverse drug event (ADE) recognition a crucial issue. As part of a research project aiming to improve the diagnosis and the management of ADEs in ED, the authors conducted a pilot study whose primary objective was to assess ADE recognition by emergency physicians.
Methods The patients presenting to the ED were included at randomised time periods between 1 October 2007 and 31 March 2008 in this prospective cross-sectional study. The primary outcome was the frequency of ADEs that were attributed to a medication-related problem by the emergency physician.
Results A total of 423 patients met the inclusion criteria, of which 95 experienced an ADE (22.5%; 95% CI 18.6% to 26.7%). Emergency physicians correctly attributed 33 of these cases (34.7%; 95% CI 25.3% to 45.2%) to a medication-related problem. Of the 28 cases in which the ADE was considered as a ‘direct drug effect’ (29.5%; 95% CI 20.6% to 39.7%), 16 were correctly identified by emergency physicians (57.1%; 95% CI 37.2% to 75.5%). Of the 67 cases in which the ADE was considered as a ‘drug involvement in a multifactorial pathological condition’ (70.5%; 95% CI 60.3% to 79.4%), 17 were correctly attributed (25.4%; 95% CI 15.5% to 37.5%).
Conclusions ADEs are frequent in EDs and are not well recognised by emergency physicians, especially when the drug is involved in a multifactorial pathological condition.
- adverse drug events
- risk management
- healthcare quality
- clinical care
- clinical management
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