An adverse drug event (ADE) is an injury or harmful effect caused by the use of a medication. This can include adverse drug reactions (ADRs), which are unwanted and potentially harmful effects that occur when a medication is used within normal doses and for its intended purpose. ADEs can also include medication errors, such as prescribing the wrong drug or dosage, administering the wrong medication, or failing to identify a patient’s allergies or other medical conditions that may increase their risk of an adverse reaction.
ADEs can range from mild to severe, and can occur in any patient population. Older adults, children, and patients with multiple chronic conditions or impaired organ function are at increased risk for ADEs. Common examples of ADRs include gastrointestinal upset, allergic reactions, and skin rashes. More severe ADRs can include drug-induced liver injury, kidney damage, and life-threatening cardiac arrhythmias.
Preventing ADEs is an important focus of medication safety efforts in healthcare. Strategies to reduce the risk of ADEs include using electronic prescribing systems with built-in alerts for potential drug interactions, providing patient education about medication use and side effects, and conducting medication reviews to identify potential drug-related problems. Prompt identification and management of ADEs when they occur can also help to prevent further harm and improve patient outcomes.