Adverse Drug Reactions in Palliative Care

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Date of Original Version



Adverse drug reactions (ADRs) have an impact on patient morbidity and mortality. Palliative care patients constitute a vulnerable population due to the complexity of their care and treatments. This study sought to identify ADRs in palliative care, assess their severity and preventability, and identify specific medications most commonly involved. This retrospective cohort study included patients who received a consult by the hospital’s palliative care service over a 1-year period. Records were reviewed to identify ADR occurrences, causative and resulting events, and variables used to determine preventability and severity. Of the 430 patients who met inclusion criteria, 247 patients experienced an ADR (57.4%). In total, 440 ADRs were documented, with 45.7% of patients experiencing more than one. Patients with repeated hospitalizations, increased medication usage, documented drug allergies, and cancer diagnoses were more likely to experience an ADR. No associations were found between occurrences of ADR with gender or Charlson comorbidity scores. The majority of ADRs were of moderate severity (64.6%) and considered potentially preventable (81.5%). Organ systems most commonly affected by ADRs were gastrointestinal (32.7%) and neurological (15.9%). Antimicrobials, opioids, and anticoagulants were the most common causative agents. ADRs are commonly experienced in palliative care patients and are often preventable. Identification of risk factors for ADRs may prevent occurrences in the complex palliative care patient.

Publication Title, e.g., Journal

Journal of Pain and Palliative Care Pharmacotherapy