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Adverse drug events.

Adverse drug events

Miller GC, Britt HC, Valenti L. 2006. Adverse drug events in general practice patients in Australia. MJA 184;7:321-4.

A recent editorial in the MJA on the status of patient safety in Australia lamented that "the absence of recent system wide data on patient safety makes a mockery of the tenets of continuous quality improvement". This lack of information is particularly obvious in the area of medication safety incidents, which constituted half of all incidents in a general practice incident monitoring study. The reporting of adverse drug events (ADE) to the Adverse Drug Reactions Advisory Committee of the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) fell from 3314 in 2002 to 2075 in 2004.

In 2001 the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing commissioned a study of patients attending general practice to establish a baseline measure of the current quantity and severity of ADEs. Results from 8215 patients showed that 10.4% had experienced an ADE in the previous 6 months with patients over 45 years, children aged 1-4 years and female patients significantly more likely to have had an ADE. For 72% of the patients who had experience an ADE it was due to a recognised side effect. For 12.4% it was drug sensitivity and 11% allergy. Over half of the events were classed as moderate to severe, about 8% being hospitalised.

Under-reporting of serious ADEs is part of the problem with reporting authorities actively discouraging reporting of less severe events and those due to known side effects of drugs. Many ADEs are therefore classified as unimportant and remain a largely hidden source of patient morbidity. If 10.4% of the 96 million GP consultations in 2003-2004 were with patients with an adverse drug reaction in the preceding 6 months, GPs would have had over 10 million such patients. This level of morbidity makes ADEs one of the most significant causes of morbidity in the Australian community.

Anne Cowper

PO Box 45, Concord West NSW 2138

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Title Annotation:Under-reporting mars patient safety measures
Author:Cowper, Anne
Publication:Australian Journal of Medical Herbalism
Article Type:Column
Geographic Code:8AUST
Date:Sep 22, 2006
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