Context: Although several studies have evaluated the frequency of adverse drug reactions (ADRs) and drug-drug interactions (DDIs) in general medicine, few studies have looked at the epidemiology of adverse drug events (ADEs) in oncology. Objectives: We sought to investigate how many hospital admissions in oncology are related to a DDI or an ADR. Methods: All cancer patients admitted to an oncology ward during an eight-month period had their charts retrospectively evaluated for reasons of hospitalization, using a 4-point scale (definitely, probably, possibly, or unlikely associated) to classify admissions by their probability of being associated with either a DDI or an ADR. Results: From September 2007 to May 2008, there were 550 hospital admissions and 458 were eligible. Among unplanned admissions (n = 298), 39 (13.0%, 95% confidence interval [CI] 9.4%-17.4%) were considered to be associated with an ADE, 33 (11.0%, 95% CI 7.7%-15.2%) with an ADR, and six (2.0%, 95% CI 0.7%-4.3%) with a DDI. The most common DDIs involved warfarin, captopril, and anti-inflammatory agents, and the most frequent ADR was neutropenic fever post-chemotherapy. Most patients were discharged completely recovered, but two patients died. Conclusion: Approximately one in 10 unplanned hospitalizations of cancer patients is associated with an ADE. Prospective and population-based studies are warranted to evaluate their magnitude in oncology. © 2011 U.S. Cancer Pain Relief Committee Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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