Open Access Research article

Trends of adverse drug reactions related-hospitalizations in Spain (2001-2006)

Pilar Carrasco-Garrido*, López Ana de Andrés, Valentín Hernández Barrera, Gil Ángel de Miguel and Rodrigo Jiménez-García

Author Affiliations

Department of Preventive Medicine and Public Health, Rey Juan Carlos University, Alcorcón, Madrid. Spain

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BMC Health Services Research 2010, 10:287  doi:10.1186/1472-6963-10-287

Published: 13 October 2010



Adverse drug reactions (ADR) are a substantial cause of hospital admissions. We conducted a nationwide study to estimate the burden of hospital admissions for ADRs in Spain during a six-year period (2001-2006) along with the associated total health cost.


Data were obtained from the national surveillance system for hospital data (Minimum Basic Data Set) maintained by the Ministry of Health and Consumer Affairs, and covering more than 95% of Spanish hospitals. From these admissions we selected all hospitalization that were code as drug-related (ICD-9-CM codes E), but intended forms of overdoses, errors in administration and therapeutics failure were excluded. The average number of hospitalizations per year, annual incidence of hospital admissions, average length of stay in the hospital, and case-fatality rate, were calculated.


During the 2001-2006 periods, the total number of hospitalized patients with ADR diagnosis was 350,835 subjects, 1.69% of all acute hospital admissions in Spain. The estimated incidence of admissions due to ADR decreased during the period 2001-2006 (p < 0.05). More than five percent of patients (n = 19,734) died during an ADR-related hospitalization. The drugs most commonly associated with ADR-related hospitalization were antineoplastic and immunosuppressive drugs (n = 75,760), adrenal cortical steroids (n = 47,539), anticoagulants (n = 26,546) and antibiotics (n = 22,144). The costs generated by patients in our study increased by 19.05% between 2001 and 2006.


Approximately 1.69% of all acute hospital admissions were associated with ADRs. The rates were much higher for elderly patients. The total cost of ADR-related hospitalization to the Spanish health system is high and has increased between 2001 and 2006. ADRs are an important cause of admission, resulting in considerable use of national health system beds and a significant number of deaths.

ADR-related hospitalizations; Minimum Basic Data Set; Costs.