Journal of General Internal Medicine

, Volume 25, Issue 1, pp 31–38 | Cite as

Adverse Drug Event Rates in Six Community Hospitals and the Potential Impact of Computerized Physician Order Entry for Prevention

  • Balthasar L. Hug
  • Daniel J. Witkowski
  • Colin M. Sox
  • Carol A. Keohane
  • Diane L. Seger
  • Catherine Yoon
  • Michael E. Matheny
  • David W. Bates
Hospital Medicine



Medications represent a major cause of harm and are costly for hospitalized patients, but more is known about these issues in large academic hospitals than in smaller hospitals.


To assess the incidence of adverse drug events (ADEs) in six community hospitals.


Multicenter, retrospective cohort study.


Six Massachusetts community hospitals with 100 to 300 beds.


From 109,641 adult patients hospitalized from January 2005 through August 2006, a random sample of 1,200 patients was drawn, 200 per site.


ADEs and preventable ADEs.


Presence of an ADE was evaluated using an adaptation of a trigger instrument developed by the Institute for Health Care Improvement. Independent reviewers classified events by preventability, severity, and potential for preventability by computerized physician order entry (CPOE).


A total of 180 ADEs occurred in 141 patients (rate, 15.0/100 admissions). Overall, 75% were preventable. ADEs were rated as serious in 49.4% and life threatening in 11.7%. Patients with ADEs were older (mean age, 74.6 years, p < 0.001), more often female (60.3%, p = 0.61), and more often Caucasian (96.5%, p < 0.001) than patients without ADEs. Of the preventable ADEs, 81.5% were judged potentially preventable by CPOE.


The incidence of ADEs in these community hospital admissions was high, and most ADEs were preventable, mostly through CPOE. These data suggest that CPOE may be beneficial in this setting.


drug safety adverse drug events potential adverse drug event computerized physician order entry community hospital Massachusetts 


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Copyright information

© Society of General Internal Medicine 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Balthasar L. Hug
    • 1
  • Daniel J. Witkowski
    • 2
  • Colin M. Sox
    • 3
  • Carol A. Keohane
    • 1
  • Diane L. Seger
    • 1
  • Catherine Yoon
    • 1
  • Michael E. Matheny
    • 1
    • 4
  • David W. Bates
    • 1
  1. 1.Division of General Internal MedicineBrigham and Women’s HospitalBostonUSA
  2. 2.Women’s Healthcare Associates, P.C.MelroseUSA
  3. 3.Center for Child Health Care Studies, Department of Ambulatory Care and PreventionHarvard Medical School and Harvard Pilgrim Health CareBostonUSA
  4. 4.Decision Systems GroupBrigham and Women’s HospitalBostonUSA

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