Adverse drug events in elderly patients receiving home health services following hospital discharge

S L Gray, J E Mahoney, D K Blough
Annals of Pharmacotherapy 1999, 33 (11): 1147-53

OBJECTIVE: To assess incidence, healthcare consequences, and identify risk factors for adverse drug events (ADEs) in elderly patients receiving home health services during the month following hospital discharge.

METHOD: This was a prospective cohort study of three home health agencies in Madison, Wisconsin, and its surrounding area. The sample consisted of 256 participants aged > or =65 years who were hospitalized for medical illness, received home nursing after discharge, and completed the one-month interview. The main outcome measure was self-reported ADEs (possible, probable, or definite) during the month following hospital discharge.

RESULTS: Incidence of ADEs was 20%. Fifty-two participants (20.3%) reported 64 ADEs: 23 possible, 37 probable, and four definite. The most common ADEs involved the gastrointestinal tract (31.3%) and the central nervous system (31.3%). Of 53 ADEs reported to providers, 59% of the drugs were discontinued or altered. One ADE resulted in hospitalization. In logistic regression, female gender (OR = 2.26; 95% CI 1.06 to 4.77) and the interaction between number of new medications and cognition were significantly associated with ADEs. The risk of an event increased with the number of new medications at discharge; however, risk was elevated primarily for participants with lower cognition.

CONCLUSIONS: ADEs were common during the month following hospital discharge, were more frequent in women, and often resulted in medication changes. Individuals at particular risk were those with lower cognition who were discharged with several new medications.

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