Prevalence of Drug Fever among Cases of Nosocomial Fever: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis

Intern Med. 2024 Apr 15;63(8):1067-1074. doi: 10.2169/internalmedicine.2322-23. Epub 2023 Sep 8.


Objective Drug fever is defined as a fever that temporally coincides with the start of a culprit drug and disappears after discontinuation of the drug. It is a common cause of nosocomial fever, which refers to a fever that develops beyond the first 48 h after hospital admission. However, the exact prevalence of drug fever among cases of nosocomial fever is unclear, as is the variation in prevalence depending on the clinical setting and most common causative drugs. Methods PubMed MEDLINE, Dialog EMBASE, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, World Health Organization International Clinical Trials Registry Platform, and were systematically searched. Studies that reported the prevalence of drug fever in patients with nosocomial fever were included. Two of the four reviewers conducted independent assessments of the inclusion, data extraction, and quality. Pooled adjusted odds ratios were generated using a random-effects model and presented with 95% confidence intervals (CIs). Results Fifteen meta-analysis from 15 studies were included. Ten studies did not report the definition of drug fever or excluded febrile patients who were admitted to the hospital within 24-48 h. The pooled prevalence of drug fever among cases of nosocomial fever was 3.0% (95% CI, 0.6-6.8%), which was largely consistent across the settings, except for at oriental medicine hospital. Only four studies reported the causative agents, and antibiotics were the most frequently reported. Conclusions The prevalence of drug fever is low in patients with nosocomial fever. Clinicians should recognize that drug fever is a diagnosis of exclusion, even in cases of nosocomial fever.

Keywords: drug fever; hospital-acquired complication; meta-analysis; nosocomial fever; systematic review.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
  • Cross Infection* / epidemiology
  • Drug Fever
  • Hospitals
  • Humans
  • Prevalence


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents