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Original article

Vol. 151 No. 0304 (2021)

Retrospective analysis of adverse drug reactions leading to short-term emergency hospital readmission

Cite this as:
Swiss Med Wkly. 2021;151:w20400



Adverse drug reactions (ADRs) are an important cause of hospital admissions. Insufficient data are available about the frequency and characteristics of ADR-related emergency readmissions in Switzerland. The aim of this retrospective study was to characterise ADRs related to short-term emergency readmissions in a large Swiss University Hospital and to assess their reporting frequency.


Electronic records of all patients discharged from the University Hospital Bern within a 12-month period (1 January to 31 December 2012) and emergency readmission within 30 calendar days were reviewed. Case inclusion required a known ADR. Cases with intentional overdosing, lack of compliance or insufficient documentation were excluded. Identified ADR-related readmission cases were searched in the Swiss ADR reporting system to assess reporting rate.


There were 1294 emergency readmissions among the 4792 readmissions (14% of all admissions) within 30 days after discharge. We identified 270 cases of ADR-related readmissions, corresponding to 21% of emergency readmissions and 6% of all readmissions within 30 days. The most frequent ADRs were gastrointestinal disorders (26%), infections and infestations (19%), and nervous system disorders (10%). The most frequent drug classes leading to ADRs were antineoplastic/immunomodulating (35%) and antithrombotic agents (25%). Only 8 (3%) of the 270 cases were reported to the Swiss ADR reporting system.


ADR-related readmissions constituted a considerable part of short-term emergency readmissions. Despite being a relevant cause for rehospitalisation, only a minority of the ADRs were reported to the regulatory authorities. Strategies to prevent ADR-related readmissions and to improve reporting rates are needed.


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