Adverse Drug Events

An adverse drug event (ADE) is an injury resulting from medical intervention related to a drug.1 This includes medication errors, adverse drug reactions, allergic reactions, and overdoses.

ADEs can happen anywhere: in hospitals, long-term care settings, and outpatient settings.

In inpatient settings, ADEs:

  • Account for an estimated 1 in 3 of all hospital adverse events
  • Affect about 2 million hospital stays each year
  • Prolong hospital stays by 1.7 to 4.6 days

Each year, ADEs in outpatient settings account for:

  • Over 3.5 million physician office visits
  • An estimated 1 million emergency department visits
  • Approximately 125,000 hospital admissions

The good news is that most ADEs are preventable. Reducing ADEs is expected to result in safer and higher quality health care services, reduced health care costs, more informed and engaged consumers, and improved health outcomes.

ODPHP is committed to reducing ADEs through the National Action Plan for Adverse Drug Event Prevention (ADE Action Plan). Learn more about the ADE Action Plan and the targets and measures we’re using to assess our progress.

Pathways to Safer Opioid Use

This interactive training tool promotes the appropriate, safe, and effective use of opioids to manage chronic pain. Designed for clinicians, health professional students, and patient advocates, it teaches principles of health literacy and a team-based approach for preventing opioid-related ADEs. Learn more about the course.

Pathways to Safer Opioid Use logo

Preventing Adverse Drug Events: Individualizing Glycemic Targets Using Health Literacy Strategies

This eLearning course teaches health care providers how to reduce hypoglycemic adverse drug events (ADEs) in patients with diabetes through personalized care and patient-centered communication strategies. Learn more about the course.

Preventing Adverse Drug Events

1 Kohn LT, Corrigan JM, Donaldson MS (Institute of Medicine). To err is human: building a safer health system. Washington DC: National Academy Press, 2000.