UMEM Educational Pearls

Category: Pharmacology & Therapeutics

Title: Emergency Hospitalizations for ADEs in Older Americans

Keywords: older adult, adverse drug event, ade, elderly, warfarin (PubMed Search)

Posted: 11/29/2011 by Bryan Hayes, PharmD (Emailed: 12/3/2011) (Updated: 12/3/2011)
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A recent article estimated 100,000 emergency hospitalizations for adverse drug events in U.S. adults 65 years of age or older each year. Nearly half of these hospitalizations were among adults ≥80 years old and two-thirds were due to unintentional overdoses.

Four medications or medication classes were implicated alone or in combination in 67% of hospitalizations:

  • Warfarin (33.3%)
  • Insulins (13.9%)
  • Oral antiplatelet agents (13.3%)
  • Oral hypoglycemic agents (10.7%)

Opioids were #5. Digoxin was #7 and resulted in the highest percentage of hospitalizations per ED visit at 80%.


Budnitz DS, et al. Emergency hospitalizations for adverse drug events in older Americans. N Engl J Med 2011;365:2002-12.