Adverse reactions to outpatient medications, supplements and herbal treatments send more than 700,000 Americans to hospital emergency rooms annually, and one in six of those victims requires hospitalization or subsequent care, according to a study in the Oct. 18 Journal of the American Medical Association. The study, funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other federal agencies, charted adverse drug reactions reported by 63 nationally representative hospitals between Jan. 1, 2004, and Dec. 31, 2005. The five most common drug classes implicated in outpatient adverse events were insulins, opioid-containing analgesics, anti-coagulants, amoxicillin-containing agents and antihistamines/cold remedies. Individuals age 65 and older were more than twice as likely as younger people to be treated in emergency departments for adverse reactions, and nearly seven times as likely to require hospitalization. The increasingly routine use of medicines in the U.S. is a doubled-edged sword that may confer serious risks along with substantial therapeutic benefits, the authors wrote. Read the abstract. -- by Michael Romano
Drug events lead to many ER visits
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