Prevalence and Categorization of Drug-Related Problems in the Emergency Department



      Drug-related problems (DRPs) are common among patients seen in the emergency department (ED), but the true incidence is not clear.


      The primary objective of this study was to determine the prevalence of DRPs among patients seen in a U.S. ED. The secondary objective was to categorize these DRPs by problem type and by medication class.


      This was a prospective observational cohort study of a random sample of ED patients between December 2011 and March 2013. ED pharmacists screened randomly selected patients for the presence of a DRP contributing to the ED visit. Four independent auditors evaluated the results to achieve consensus for the presence or absence of DRPs and categorization of the DRPs.


      Among 1039 patients screened for DRPs, 308 (29.6%) were found to have at least 1 DRP contributing to the ED visit. Among a total of 443 DRPs, the most commonly identified categories were adverse drug reaction (n = 193 [43.6%]), ineffective medication (n = 69 [15.6%]), and subtherapeutic dosage (n = 68 [15.3%]). The most commonly implicated drug classes were cardiovascular medications (n = 113 [26.5%]), anti-infective medications (n = 52 [12.2%]), and analgesic medications (n = 58 [13.6%]).


      A substantial proportion of ED visits are associated in part or in total with DRPs. Adverse drug reactions and cardiovascular medications are the most common category and medication class implicated, respectively.


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