[Drugs as a cause of death. A prospective quality assurance project in a department of medicine]

Tidsskr Nor Laegeforen. 1995 Aug 20;115(19):2369-72.
[Article in Norwegian]


This study is part of a prospective quality assurance project in a Norwegian county hospital. The major aims of the study were to estimate the number of drug-related deaths; assess whether these were recognized by the clinicians, and (if not) discuss why the clinicians had difficulties in recognizing drug-related deaths. A panel of two internists, one pathologist, one pharmacologist and one pharmacist evaluated all inpatients deaths over a six-month period. Among 3,082 hospitalized patients, 169 died. Of these deaths, 20 were classified as probably (nine) or possibility (11) drug-related. Only two of the deaths were recognized as such by the clinicians in the ward. The reasons for the clinicians failure to recognize adverse drug reactions include frequent presence of multiple diseases, polypharmacy and inadequate guidelines on how to look for adverse reactions to drugs. A two-year survey aimed at studying these aspects in depth is in progress.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • English Abstract

MeSH terms

  • Adrenergic beta-Agonists / poisoning
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme Inhibitors / poisoning
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / poisoning
  • Cause of Death
  • Diuretics / poisoning
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Fatal Outcome
  • Female
  • Hospital Mortality
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Norway / epidemiology
  • Poisoning / mortality*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Quality Assurance, Health Care*


  • Adrenergic beta-Agonists
  • Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Diuretics