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November 25, 1998

Adverse Drug Reactions in Hospitalized Patients

Author Affiliations

Margaret A.WinkerMD, Senior EditorIndividualAuthorPhil B.FontanarosaMD, Senior EditorIndividualAuthor

JAMA. 1998;280(20):1741. doi:10.1001/jama.280.20.1741

To the Editor.—In their meta-analysis on adverse drug reactions (ADRs) in hospitalized patients, Dr Lazarou and colleagues1 state: "Fatal ADRs appear to be between the fourth and sixth leading cause of death. Their incidence has remained stable over the last 30 years." These 2 sequential sentences indicate the authors claim that their findings regarding fatal ADRs are applicable today. Although the figure in their article shows stability of the total ADR incidence over the years, it does not distinguish fatal ADRs from nonfatal. Plotting only fatal ADRs based on data contained in Tables 1 and 2 of their article shows that the incidence of fatal ADRs has decreased precipitously during the last 30 years (Figure 1).

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