Medication Use at Home Sends 700,000 to ER Annually

By Michael Dorausch, D.C. staff writer

According to a study published in the October 18 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, as many as 700,000 Americans end up in emergency rooms each year as a result of adverse reactions (side effects) to drugs they’ve taken.

Whether we like it or not, medication use in America is common, and many “self medicate.” According to information in the AMA article, a 2004 study found that more than 80% of US residents reported using a prescription medication, over-the-counter (OTC) drug or dietary supplement in the previous week. The same article found 30% saying they had used five or more drugs in the previous week.

Measuring the rates of side effects for self medicating or prescribed drug use has been difficult since most do not report side effects or adverse events to doctors.

The study was done over 2 years and researchers found that about 2.5% of all emergency room visits and about 7% of emergency room visits leading to hospitalization were due to adverse drug events, or side effects from taking drugs.

During the study period, more than 21,000 people went to a participating hospital due to an adverse drug reaction. Researchers estimated that more than 117,000 people are admitted to hospitals each year because of adverse drug reactions.

According to the study, people over 65 were doubly at risk of suffering an adverse drug reaction.

Some of the more common medications often found responsible for adverse events included nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, as well as antihistamines and various cold medications.

Not every American loves taking drugs. How are those that don’t take any medications different from those that do? Are they healthier? Do we (America) really need to be taking all these medications? @ 1:19 pm | Article ID: 1161127216