Medication Safety Basics
The Medication Safety Program, housed in the Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion (DHQP),
leads CDC’s national adverse drug events (ADEs) surveillance activities and seeks to translate
population-based surveillance data into evidence-based policies and targeted, innovative and
Adverse drug events (ADEs) are a serious public health problem. It is estimated that:
- 82% of American adults take at least one medication and 29% take five or more 
- 700,000 emergency department visits and 120,000 hospitalizations are due to ADEs annually 
- $3.5 billion is spent on extra medical costs of ADEs annually 
- At least 40% of costs of ambulatory (non-hospital settings) ADEs are estimated to be preventable 
The numbers of adverse drug events will likely grow due to:
- Development of new medications
- Discovery of new uses for older medications
- Aging American population
- Increase in the use of medications for disease prevention
- Increased coverage for prescription medications
- For Parents: Young Children and Adverse Drug Events
- Adults and Older Adult Adverse Drug Events
- Poisoning in the United States: Fact Sheet
- CDC’s Issue Brief: Unintentional Drug Poisoning in the United States[PDF - 4 pages]
- Tips to Prevent Poisonings
- Slone Epidemiology Center at Boston University. Patterns of medication use in the United States, 2006.
- Budnitz DS, Pollock DA, Weidenbach KN, Mendelsohn AB, Schroeder TJ, Annest JL. National surveillance of emergency department visits for outpatient adverse drug events .External Web Site Icon JAMA 2006;296:1858-66.
- Institute of Medicine. Committee on Identifying and Preventing Medication Errors. Preventing Medication Errors, Washington, DC: The National Academies Press 2006.