Hospitalisations caused by adverse drug reactions (ADR): a meta-analysis of observational studies

Pharm World Sci. 2002 Apr;24(2):46-54. doi: 10.1023/a:1015570104121.


Aim: To establish the percentage hospital admission related to adverse drug reactions (ADRs) from the data available in the literature.

Method: Literature search in the Medline database, meta-analysis.

Results: From the literature it is revealed that a considerable part of all hospital admissions are related to adverse drug reactions. However, these data are not homogenous, i.e. larger studies display a lower percentage of ADR related hospital admission, while smaller studies display a higher percentage. Subgroup analysis showed that for elderly people the odds of being hospitalised by ADR related problems is 4 times higher than for younger ones (16.6% vs. 4.1%). A considerable part of these hospitalisations can be prevented. Subgroup analysis revealed that in the elderly up to 88% of the ADR related hospitalisations are preventable; for the non-elderly this is only 24%. Comparatively more elderly people are hospitalised than younger ones. Combining these findings, twice as much elderly people are hospitalised by ADR related problems than non-elderly, while preventability of ADR related hospitalisation might yield 7 times more people in the elderly than in the non-elderly. The estimation of the costs of ADR related hospitalisations in the Health Care system in The Netherlands is discussed.

Conclusion: Many elderly people are hospitalised by ADR related problems; an important part of these hospitalisations can be avoided.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Meta-Analysis

MeSH terms

  • Adverse Drug Reaction Reporting Systems* / statistics & numerical data
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Hospitalization* / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Observation / methods*