A bad reaction

Almost all medication-related adverse drug reactions are preventable and predictable and could be avoided with better reporting and e-health systems, experts believe.

Pharmacy researchers from Charles Darwin University, NT and Charles Sturt University NSW, examined 150 recorded hospital admissions for adverse drug reactions in which patients had a National Inpatient Medication Chart.

Almost all (97%) of these admissions were judged by the authors to be preventable. In addition, 82% of the 150 admissions were regarded as being predictable.

The drugs most commonly implicated are:

  • Analgesics – Morphine; NSAIDs; Fentanyl
  • Antibiotics – Penicillins; Cephalosporins; Glycopeptides
  • Cardiovascular drugs – Diuretics; Aspirin; Warfarin; Digoxin; ACE-inhibitors

The key messages from the study are the importance of correct and detailed recording and allowing consumer access to electronic health records, the authors said.

“A Patient Controlled Electronic Health Record allows for more comprehensive and complete information about a patient to be assembled at the time of prescribing,” the authors said. “This is an important step towards improved continuity of care, achieved by reducing the amount of time it takes for both patients and healthcare providers to repeatedly collect and share information across the healthcare sector.

“The flow-on effects from this potentially include…. enhanced efficacy and efficiency and a reduction in avoidable hospital admissions and general practitioner presentations (because of more effective medication management).

The costs of adverse drug reactions are huge, the authors said. They quoted data showing that in 2011 there were “approximately 247,000 reports of suspected ADRs reported to the Australian Therapeutics Goods Administration”.