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Medical News & Perspectives
October 1, 2008

Emergency Departments See High Rates of Adverse Events From Antibiotic Use

JAMA. 2008;300(13):1505-1506. doi:10.1001/jama.300.13.1505

Antibiotic-associated adverse events are responsible for an unexpectedly high rate of visits to emergency departments, accounting for nearly 1 in 5 visits for medication-related adverse events, according to new findings by scientists with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The researchers analyzed 6614 cases of drug-related adverse events gleaned from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System-Cooperative Adverse Drug Event Surveillance project (2004-2006) and outpatient prescriptions from several national sample surveys. Based on these data, the researchers estimated a rate of 10.5 emergency visits per 10 000 US prescriptions written for antibiotics generated by patient visits to private practice offices, hospital clinics, and emergency departments, resulting in about 142 500 visits annually to emergency departments. Antibiotic use accounted for about 19% of all drug-related adverse events seen in emergency departments. The findings were posted online August 11 in Clinical Infectious Diseases (Shehab N et al. Clin Infect Dis. 2008;47[6]:735-743).