There are few data on the rate and characterization of medication-related visits (MRVs) to the emergency department (ED) in pediatric patients. We sought to evaluate the frequency, severity, preventability, and classification of MRVs to the ED in pediatric patients.


We performed a prospective observational study of pediatric patients presenting to the ED over a 12-month period. A medication-related ED visit was identified by using pharmacist assessment, emergency physician assessment, and an independent adjudication committee.


In this study, 2028 patients were enrolled (mean age, 6.1 ± 5.0 years; girls, 47.4%). An MRV was found in 163 patients (8.0%; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 7.0%–9.3%) of which 106 (65.0%; 95% CI: 57.2%–72.3%) were deemed preventable. Severity was classified as mild in 14 cases (8.6%; 95% CI: 4.8%–14.0%), moderate in 140 cases (85.9%; 95% CI: 79.6%–90.8%), and severe in 9 cases (5.5%; 95% CI: 2.6%–10.2%). The most common events were related to adverse drug reactions 26.4% (95% CI: 19.8%–33.8%), subtherapeutic dosage 19.0% (95% CI: 13.3%–25.9%), and nonadherence 17.2% (95% CI: 11.7%–23.9%). The probability of hospital admission was significantly higher among patients with an MRV compared with those without an MRV (odds ratio, 6.5; 95% CI: 4.3–9.6) and, if admitted, the median (interquartile range) length of stay was longer (3.0 [5.0] days vs 1.5 [2.5] days, P = .02).


A medication-related cause was found in ∼1 of every 12 ED visits by pediatric patients, of which two-thirds were deemed preventable. Pediatric patients who present to the ED with an MRV are more likely to be admitted to hospital and when admitted have a longer length of stay.

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