It is well known that drug-related morbidity is common among hospitalized patients, and is to some extent preventable, but less is known about drug-related morbidity outside hospitals. Two new studies conducted at the Nordic School of Public Health NHV, show that healthcare professionals perceive drug-related morbidity to affect half of all patients attending healthcare.
In two studies using expert opinions, physicians estimated that 51% of all patients outside hospitals and 54% of all hospitalized patients experience drug-related morbidity, while pharmacists estimated this to affect 61% of all patients in healthcare. Of the affected patients, 24-45% were estimated to experience preventable drug-related morbidity, and the resulting costs were EUR 730-1645 per patient with drug-related morbidity.
"It is likely that the frequency of drug-related morbidity and the resulting costs are underestimated in previous studies, as drug-related morbidity was also common outside hospitals according to the expert opinion," says Hanna Gyllensten, pharmacist and doctoral student at the Nordic School of Public Health NHV.
In the studies, drug-related morbidity included new medical problems (adverse drug reactions, drug dependence and intoxication by overdose) and therapeutic failure (insufficient effect of medicines and untreated indications). The two expert panels of experienced physicians and pharmacists estimated the proportion of patients experiencing drug-related morbidity, the proportion perceived preventable, and the clinical consequences resulting from drug-related morbidity. From this, the costs to the healthcare system were modeled based on national statistics for costs of healthcare consumption.
"This method was used to estimate the costs of drug-related morbidity in the early 1990's in the USA, and the results have been widely cited in other countries. We wanted to investigate if healthcare professionals today in Sweden have a similar experience," adds Hanna Gyllensten.
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