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Hospital patients

Hospital Patients Made Sicker with Drug Reactions

Thursday, February 19, 2009 by: Sherry Baker, Health Sciences Editor
Tags: hospital patients, health news, Natural News

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(NaturalNews) Hundreds of thousands of people go to hospital emergency rooms each year due to adverse reactions to prescription drugs. Many of them are so sick from medication-produced problems, they are admitted for a hospital stay. And then what happens? A high number of those who are hospitalized are given more drugs that also cause adverse -- and sometimes deadly -- reactions.

That`s the conclusion of a new report just published in the journal PLoS ONE. Researchers at the University of Liverpool looked into adverse drug reactions (ADRs) and noted they are a major cause of hospital admissions. And when they studied more than 3,000 hospitalized patients, the scientists found that one in seven had an adverse drug reaction to the medical treatment they received while hospitalized.

"We previously found that approximately a quarter of a million people are admitted to hospital in the UK each year following adverse drug reactions to a variety of commonly prescribed drugs, but we had very little data on ADRs experienced as a result of hospital treatment," Professor Munir Pirmohamed, from the University`s School of Biomedical Sciences, explained in a media release.

To further document the clinical characteristics of ADRs, the Liverpool scientists assessed drug reactions of patients in 12 hospital wards over six months. They found that 15% of patients admitted to the hospitals experienced one or more adverse reactions ranging from constipation, confusion and renal problems to bleeding and debilitating infections with the bacterium known as Clostridium difficle. The ADRs increased the length of time patients had to stay in the hospital, too.

The drugs that most frequently caused problems were commonly prescribed anticoagulants, analgesics and diuretics and the patients most likely to have bad reactions were elderly people taking multiple medications. "A significant predictor of ADRs in hospitals is the number of medications a patient is taking; each additional drug treatment increases the risk of experiencing an adverse drug reaction. This is one of the reasons why elderly people experience a higher incidence of ADRs than young people, as they have more health conditions and generally take more medications," Professor Pirmohamed stated.

The results of the study show that the overall burden of ADRs on hospitals is enormous and new methods of intervention are needed to reduce the number of adverse reactions to medications. In his media statement, Professor Pirmohamed emphasized that the data his research team compiled from British hospitals is consistent with data from hospitals in many other countries. "This is therefore not just an issue for Merseyside hospitals, but hospitals throughout the Western world," he stated.

In fact, according to research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, there are about 7,000 deaths each year from medication errors in hospitals and over 100,000 deaths annually from non-error, adverse reactions to drugs.

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About the author

Sherry Baker is a widely published writer whose work has appeared in Newsweek, Health, the Atlanta Journal and Constitution, Yoga Journal, Optometry, Atlanta, Arthritis Today, Natural Healing Newsletter, OMNI, UCLA's "Healthy Years" newsletter, Mount Sinai School of Medicine's "Focus on Health Aging" newsletter, the Cleveland Clinic's "Men's Health Advisor" newsletter and many others.
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