Nearly 90,000 American adults are going to emergency rooms every year in response to adverse events from psychiatric medications, according to a study in JAMA Psychiatry. Examining data from 2009 to 2011, researchers from the Center for Disease Control and Johns Hopkins University found that 19.3% of these adverse events resulted in hospitalization. They called these rates of harm “conservative” because they excluded, for example, self-harm, drug abuse, and long-term chronic conditions resulting from medications. The rates were similar across age groups, but 61.9% involved women compared to 38.1% involving men.
Antidepressants were the most common cause of adverse events among women aged 19-44, while antipsychotics ranked highest among men of that age. Almost 3/5ths of all adverse events were caused by just 10 drugs. “Attempts to reduce the use of psychiatric medications when risks outweigh benefits have had mixed success, but the current burden of [adverse drug events] from therapeutic use of psychiatric medications, which conservatively includes almost 90,000 [emergency department] visits a year, suggests that such efforts should continue,” concluded the researchers.
Emergency Department Visits by Adults for Psychiatric Medication Adverse Events (Hampton. Lee M. et al. JAMA Psychiatry. Published online July 09, 2014. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2014.436)
Psychiatric Drugs Send 90,000 to the ER Yearly (Live Science, July 9, 2014)