Study finds 700,000 ER visits a year caused by bad reaction to medicines

October 18, 2006|By LOS ANGELES TIMES

Bad reactions to prescription drugs send 700,000 Americans to emergency rooms each year, according to a federal study providing the most detailed look yet at the problem.

The report, appearing today in The Journal of the American Medical Association, said drug allergies were the most common bad reaction sending patients to emergency rooms, followed by unintended overdoses. The study excluded suicide attempts.

People over 65 were more than twice as likely to have severe drug reactions as younger people. One in six elderly people seeking emergency treatment were admitted to the hospital.

Of the top 18 drugs causing bad reactions, 16 have been in use for more than 20 years. Researchers found three drugs - the blood-thinner warfarin, the diabetes drug insulin and the heart medicine digoxin - accounted for one-third of drug-related emergency room visits by people over 65.

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