Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Increasing trend in hospitalisation due to adverse drug reactions: can we stem the tide?
  1. Lauren E Walker,
  2. Munir Pirmohamed
  1. Wolfson Centre for Personalised Medicine, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Lauren E Walker, Wolfson Centre for Personalised Medicine, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, Merseyside, UK; md0u10pc{at}


Living with multiple long-term health conditions (multimorbidity) is increasingly common in older age. The more long-term conditions that an individual has, the more medicines they are likely to take. Hospitalisation as a consequence of medication-related harm is increasing and a concerted effort is needed to reduce the burden of harm caused by medication. However, making decisions about the balance between benefit and harm for an older person with multimorbidity and polypharmacy is very complex. There are various clinical tools that can help to identify patients at higher risk of harm and numerous strategies, including medicines optimisation reviews that incorporate personalised health information, to try to reduce risk. Further education and training of the healthcare professionals is needed to equip the multidisciplinary workforce with the skills and knowledge to address these challenges. This article discusses some of the changes that can be implemented now and highlights areas that will require more research before they can be introduced, in order to help patients to get the best out of their medicines.

  • Drug-Related Side Effects and Adverse Reactions
  • Drug interactions
  • Polypharmacy
  • Therapeutics

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.


  • Competing interests None declared. Refer to the online supplementary files to view the ICMJE form(s).

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Supplemental material This content has been supplied by the author(s). It has not been vetted by BMJ Publishing Group Limited (BMJ) and may not have been peer-reviewed. Any opinions or recommendations discussed are solely those of the author(s) and are not endorsed by BMJ. BMJ disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on the content. Where the content includes any translated material, BMJ does not warrant the accuracy and reliability of the translations (including but not limited to local regulations, clinical guidelines, terminology, drug names and drug dosages), and is not responsible for any error and/or omissions arising from translation and adaptation or otherwise.