The aim of this study was to examine epidemiologic characteristics of Adverse Drug Events (ADEs) among children and adolescents presenting to an Emergency Department (ED) in Newfoundland and Labrador (NL), Canada.
This study was conducted in three phases and included an ED chart review of visits to the Janeway Hospital in St. John's, NL, between 27th April 2006 and 26th April 2007. The first phase narrowed the sampling frame by excluding visits highly unlikely to be drug-related. In the second phase, a random sample of ED charts was selected for review by two research nurses using a Trigger Assessment Tool that classified ED visits according to their likelihood of being drug related ('high', 'moderate', 'low', 'very low', or 'no' probability). The third phase included a full chart review of all 'high', 'moderate', 'low', and 'very low' probability ADE charts, carried out independently by two ED pediatricians and two clinical pharmacists. Each ADE was also scored for severity and preventability, and consensus was reached among all four reviewers during meetings held at the end of this phase.
In this study, 69 patients presented to the ED either due to an ADE or a possible ADE (PADE). After a sample-weight adjustment, the prevalence of ADEs/PADEs was found to be 2.1%. The number of co-morbidities was inversely associated with medication-related visits. There was no significant difference found between patients with and without medication related visits with respect to mean age of the patient and the mean number of current medications being taken. Of the 69 confirmed ADE/PADEs, none were fatal, six (8.7%) were serious/life-threatening, and 63 (91.3%) were considered significant. Antimicrobial agents (45.0%) were the most common drug classes associated with ADEs/PADEs. Approximately 20% of the 69 ADEs/PADEs identified were considered preventable.
In St. John's NL, emergency department visits as a result of ADEs are common among the pediatric population and in many cases preventable. Age and number of current medications do not appear to be associated with ED visits related with ADE. Antimicrobial agents were found to be to the cause of most ADEs/PADEs.