Americans Frequently Visit Doctors for Adverse Drug Effects

More than 4.3 million visits to physician’s offices, hospital outpatient departments, and hospital emergency departments in 2001 were for treatment of adverse drug effects, up from 2.7 million in 1995, according to a new study by AHRQ researchers. The study, “Ambulatory Care Visits for Treating Adverse Drug Effects in the United States, 1995-2001,” was published in the July issue of the Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety. In 2001, 74 percent of all visits for treating adverse drug effects were made to physician’s offices, 20 percent to hospital emergency departments, and 6 percent to hospital outpatient departments. Antibiotics and other anti-infectives were most frequently associated with visits for adverse drug effects, followed by hormones and other synthetic substitutes. The most frequent adverse effects suffered include dermatological symptoms, such as a skin rash, followed by gastrointestinal symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain.