The report "Deadly consequences-Study shows adverse drug reactions take a high toll" (April 20, p. 12) was a misleading report on a very weak medical journal article.
This article was based on a meta-analysis by three researchers who were not involved in adverse drug reaction research of any significance. The original article, which appeared in the April 15 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, is nothing more than a desk statistical analysis of other studies and assumes the other studies are valid and comparable. That is not true. The studies do not support the statistical projection that 106,000 Americans died in hospitals in 1994 because of adverse drug reactions.
The studies that are the basis of the recent JAMA article often were very weak in their analyses of causes of death and included all kinds of so-called adverse events, minor and major. Cause of death in a hospitalized patient requires a sophisticated analysis and an autopsy. It is silly, if not deceptive, to base criticisms of the safety of hospitals and the healthcare system on these weak studies
The patient-safety crisis rhetoric, which has been very loud in the past two years, should not be repeated without adequate study.
John Dale Dunn, M.D.
Lake Brownwood, Texas