Drug Related Problems at the Intensive Care Unit of a University Hospital in Saudi Arabia

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Mohammad A. Randhawa
Hatem O. Qutub
Mastour S. Alghamdi
Raniah A. Al-Jaizani
Rayan Y. Mushtaq
Mohammad J. Akbar


Drug related problems, Intensive care unit, University hospital


Background: Medication errors can lead to mild or severe drug related problems. Drug related problems are sometimes unpredictable and can occur without medication errors. Awareness and identification of medication errors and drug related problems aids in adoption of measures to prevent and treat them.

Objective: Present study aimed to find out prevalence of drug related problems reporting or occurring at Intensive Care Unit of King Fahd Hospital of the University, Alkhobar, Saudi Arabia.

Methods: Scrutinizing written files of all patients reporting to Intensive Care Unit, from January to December 2012.

Results: Out of 193 files reviewed, 33 patients (17.1%) had trivial to serious drug related problems, including 8 (4.1%) deaths. Drugs commonly involved in these problems were anticoagulants (Warfarin and heparin, alone or in combination with aspirin or clopidogrel; 8 cases, 24.2%), antiepileptic drugs (Carbamazepine and phenytoin; 6 cases, 18.2%), immune suppressants (Azathioprine and prednisolone; 4 cases, 12.1%), antibiotics (Ciprofloxacin, imipenum, tazocin and vancomycin; 4 cases, 12.1%) and drugs of abuse and dependence (Alcohol, benzodiazepines, cannabis and opioids; 4 cases, 12.1%). Amongst drug related problems detected, 6 cases (18.2%) were linked to drug interactions. Almost 60% of drug related problems found were preventable, including those due to overdose toxicity, non-compliance and drug-drug interactions.

Conclusions: Mild to severe drug related problems occurred in intensive care unit of a university hospital and about half of them were preventable. It is hoped that the awareness and insight of drug related problems will help to improve patient care.

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