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Focusing on adverse drug events is still crucial during the COVID-19 pandemic

The nation’s hospitals continue to grapple with COVID-19, a pandemic that has strained staff and resources like never before. But even amid this ongoing public health emergency, it’s important to not forget—and to continue addressing—patient safety concerns that impact outcomes and costs. 

Foremost among patient safety issues are adverse drug events (ADE), which are responsible for 100,000 deaths every year and (before COVID-19) were estimated to be the fourth leading cause of death in the United States. ADEs impact 2 million hospital stays annually in the U.S. and prolong inpatient hospital stays by 1.7 to 4.6 days

Despite efforts to reduce adverse drug events and improve patient safety—including the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ (CMS) in-depth undertaking to create policies, value-based purchasing programs, and other financial incentives aimed at preventing hospital ADEs—the problem perseveres. The result is an increase of about $136 billion in annual U.S. healthcare costs, much of which could be avoided. 

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