DOI: 10.1097/mej.0000000000001070 ISSN:

A prospective intervention study to identify drug-related emergency department visits comparing a standard care group and a pharmaceutical care group

Benjamin J. Hellinger, André Gries, Susanne Schiek, Yvonne Remane, Thilo Bertsche
  • Emergency Medicine

Background and importance

Adverse drug reactions impose a major burden. Those adverse drug reactions might lead to hospitalization but are often not correctly identified in the emergency department (ED). Clinical pharmacists, although not routinely implemented, can help identify adverse drug reactions.


The primary objective was to examine the drug association of ED visits in a pharmaceutical group with a clinical pharmacist integrated in the ED team compared with a standard group without additional support.


This prospective intervention study was performed in the ED of a tertiary care university hospital in Leipzig, Germany. Patients who were ≥50 years old were included. From 1 March 2020 to May 31, 2020 patients were enrolled in the standard group. From 1 March 2021 to 31 May 2021, the pharmaceutical group was enrolled. The clinical pharmacist supported the ED team with patient´s detailed medication history and medication analysis. In both groups, patients were evaluated whether their ED visit was drug-related.

Outcome measures and analysis

The number of identified drug-related ED presentations were compared between the two groups. Interventions performed on adverse drug reaction management, causative drugs and patient characteristics were evaluated.

Main results

A total of 798 patients were enrolled in the standard group and 827 patients in the pharmaceutical group. Patients whose ED visit was drug-related had a median age of 77 years [(Q25–Q75) 63.5–83.5] and took 7 [(Q25–Q75) 5–8] drugs in standard group. In the pharmaceutical group median age was 78 years [(Q25–Q75) 66–83] and number of drugs taken was 9 [(Q25–Q75) 5.25–11]. 31 (3.9%) drug-related ED visits were identified in the standard group compared to 104 (12.6%) in the pharmaceutical group (OR 3.56; 95% CI 2.35–5.38). An intervention on the patient’s pharmacotherapy was performed in 16 drug-related ED visits in standard group compared to 77 in the pharmaceutical group.


In this study the implementation of a clinical pharmacist was associated with improved identification of drug-related ED visits. Discontinuations of causal medications and dose reductions were significantly higher in the pharmaceutical group compared to the standard care group.

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