Send to

Choose Destination
Can J Hosp Pharm. 2016 Jul-Aug;69(4):294-300. Epub 2016 Aug 31.

Patient Characteristics Associated with Adverse Drug Events in Hospital: An Overview of Reviews.

Author information

, BSc, is a PharmD candidate in the School of Pharmacy, University of Waterloo, Kitchener, Ontario.
, BScPharm, ACPR, is with The Ottawa Hospital, Ottawa, Ontario.
, BScPharm, ACPR, MSc(Epi), is with The Ottawa Hospital and the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, Ottawa, Ontario.


in English, French


Adverse drug events (ADEs) occurring in hospital inpatients can have serious implications. The ability to identify and prioritize patients at higher risk of ADEs could help pharmacists to optimize their impact as members of the patient care team.


To identify risk factors, patient characteristics, and medications associated with a higher likelihood of ADEs in adult inpatients through an overview of reviews on this topic.


Systematic reviews and narrative reviews or guidelines identified through a search of MEDLINE and the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (limited to articles published from 1995 to June 4, 2015), as well as a grey literature search.


For inclusion in this overview, a review had to discuss patient characteristics or risk factors associated with ADEs, medications associated with ADEs, or drug-drug interactions associated with ADEs, in adult inpatients. Articles retrieved by the literature search were screened for eligibility by a single reviewer.


Eleven articles were deemed eligible for inclusion in this overview: 4 systematic reviews and 7 narrative reviews or guidelines. Their results were described narratively. Older age and polypharmacy were the most frequently cited risk factors associated with ADEs in hospital inpatients. Renal impairment, female sex, and decline in cognition were also frequently reported as being associated with ADEs. Medication classes reported to be associated with ADEs during the hospital stay included anticoagulants, anti-infectives/antibiotics, antidiabetic agents, analgesics (including opioids and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), and cardiovascular drugs (including antihypertensive agents, diuretics, and digoxin). Two publications reported on preventable ADEs in hospital inpatients; the medications associated with preventable ADEs were consistent with those reported above.


The risk factors, patient characteristics, and medication classes highlighted in this overview may help clinicians to prioritize patient populations who may be at higher risk of ADEs.


adverse drug event; hospital; medications; review; risk factors; systematic review

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center