Medication Injuries and Side Effects Rise Dramatically

The number of people treated in U.S. hospitals for illnesses and injuries from taking medicines jumped 52% between 2004 and 2008 – 1.2 million to 1.9 million – according to an Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality press release. These medication side effects and injuries resulted from taking or being given the wrong medicine or dosage.

The federal agency also found that in 2008, for patients admitted to the hospital, the top five categories causing side effects and injuries were:

  • corticosteroids (used for such illnesses as asthma, arthritis, ulcerative colitis and other conditions (283,700 cases) ;
  • painkillers (269,400 cases);
  • drugs to treat cancer and immune system disorders (234,300 cases);
  • blood-thinners (218,800 cases); and
  • heart and blood pressure medicines (191,300 cases).

More than half (53%) of hospitalized patients treated for side effects or other medication-related injuries were age 65 or older. Thirty percent were age 45 to 64,14% were between the ages of 18 and 44 and 3% were under the age of 18.

Children and teenagers accounted for 22% of emergency cases. About 57% of the hospitalized patients and 61% of emergency department cases were female.

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