Objectives: To determine the incidence of hospital admissions for drug-related problems (DRPs) among children, and to examine cases for causality, preventability and clinical severity.
Design: Prospective assessment involving review of case notes and parent interview to determine if an admission was associated with a DRP.
Patients and setting: All patients admitted to a large university-affiliated paediatric hospital in Melbourne, Victoria, for medical reasons (i.e., not surgical, trauma or oncology patients) during 56 consecutive days from 24 June to 19 August 1996 for which a DRP could be identified. Patients whose parents or guardians could not communicate adequately in English were excluded.
Main outcome measures: The incidence, type, causality, preventability and clinical severity of DRPs associated with admission.
Results: Of 1682 eligible patients admitted to the Royal Children's Hospital during the study period, 58 admissions (3.4%) were associated with DRPs. Non-compliance was implicated in 50%. Causality was ranked as "definite" (34.5%), "possible" (56.9%) and "doubtful" (8.6). Two-thirds of admissions associated with DRPs were deemed preventable. Although no patients died from DRPs, four were admitted to the intensive care unit.
Conclusions: The incidence of DRPs as a cause of hospital admission in this study falls within the range of incidences published for the Australian adult population (range, 2.4%-22%). In contrast to findings among Australian adults, a high proportion of admissions for DRPs in this study were associated with non-compliance. The high percentage of preventable admissions indicates that further study is necessary to characterise risk factors within this population and to test prevention strategies.