The more serious adverse drug events, involving life-threatening or fatal reactions, are more likely to be preventable than other errors, according to a new study in the March 5 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Studying Medicare cases in a one-year period, researchers identified 1,523 adverse drug events, which would correspond to 1.9 million cases if extrapolated to the entire Medicare population. It found that 28% of the 1,523 cases were preventable and, in comparison, that 42% of the serious reactions were preventable.
The study, published Wednesday, specifically found that:
- Preventable errors occurred most often in prescribing, followed by monitoring and patient adherence.
- The most common medication categories associated with preventable adverse drug events, listed in order, were cardiovascular medications, diuretics, nonopioid analgesics, hypoglycemics and anticoagulants.
- The most common types of preventable adverse drug events were, in order, electrolyte/renal, gastrointestinal tract, hemorrhagic, metabolic/endocrine and neuropsychiatric.
"Prevention strategies should target prescribing and monitoring stages of pharmaceutical care," the authors concluded. "Interventions focused on improving patient adherence with prescribed regimens and monitoring of prescribed medications also may be beneficial."