Prevalence of preventable medication-related hospitalizations in Australia: an opportunity to reduce harm

Int J Qual Health Care. 2012 Jun;24(3):239-49. doi: 10.1093/intqhc/mzs015. Epub 2012 Apr 11.


Objective: To identify the prevalence of potentially preventable medication-related hospitalizations amongst elderly Australian veterans by applying clinical indicators to administrative claims data.

Design and setting: Retrospective cohort study in the Australian veteran population from 1 January 2004 to 31 December 2008.

Participants: A total of 109 044 veterans with one or more hospitalizations defined by the medication-related clinical indicator set, during the 5-year study period.

Main outcome measure: The prevalence of potentially preventable medication-related hospitalizations as a proportion of all hospitalizations defined by the clinical indicator set.

Results: During the 5-year study period, there were a total of 1 630 008 hospital admissions of which 216 527 (13.3%) were for conditions defined by the medication-related clinical indicator set for 109 044 veterans. The overall proportion of potentially preventable medication-related hospitalizations was 20.3% (n= 43 963). Of the 109 044 veterans included in the study, 28 044 (25.7%) had at least one potentially preventable medication-related hospitalization and 7245 (6.6%) veterans had two or more potentially preventable admissions. Conditions with both a high prevalence of hospitalization and preventability included asthma/chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder, depression and thromboembolic cerebrovascular event (23.3, 18.5 and 18.3%, respectively, were potentially preventable). Other hospitalizations that were less common but had a high level of preventability (at least 20%) included hip fracture, impaction, renal failure, acute confusion, bipolar disorder and hyperkalaemia.

Conclusions: The results of this study highlight those conditions where hospitalizations could potentially be avoided through improved medication management. Strategies to increase the awareness, identification and resolution of these medication-related problems contributing to these hospitalizations are required in Australia.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Asthma / drug therapy
  • Australia
  • Cohort Studies
  • Depression / drug therapy
  • Drug-Related Side Effects and Adverse Reactions*
  • Female
  • Hospitalization / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prevalence
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / drug therapy
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Thromboembolism / drug therapy
  • Veterans