Completeness and accuracy of adverse drug reaction documentation in electronic medical records at a tertiary care hospital in Australia

Gina McLachlan, Airley Broomfield, Rohan Elliott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Background: A large proportion of patients presenting to hospitals have experienced a previous adverse drug reaction (ADR). Electronic medical records (EMRs) present an opportunity to accurately document ADRs and alert clinicians against inadvertent rechallenge where there is a pre-existing reaction. However, EMR systems are imperfect and rely on the accuracy of the data entered. Objective: To ascertain the completeness of ADR documentation and the accuracy of the classification of ADRs as allergy versus intolerance in the EMR at a major metropolitan hospital in Australia. Method: Cross-sectional audit of the ADR field of the EMR for a sample of patients on four different wards over 3 weeks to ascertain the completeness of ADR documentation and the accuracy of classification of ADRs. Results: Of the 264 patients assessed, 102 (38.6%) had a total of 210 ADRs documented in the EMR. Of these, 105 (50%) were considered to have complete documentation; 63/210 (30.0%) were missing a reaction description and 88/210 (41.9%) were missing severity information. For those ADRs with a reaction description (n = 147), 97 (66.0%) were considered to be appropriately classified as allergy or intolerance. Conclusion: Incomplete and inaccurate ADR documentation was common. These findings highlight a need for optimising ADR documentation to improve appropriate medication use in hospital. Implications: Improved EMR design and education of healthcare workers on the importance of complete and accurate documentation of reactions are needed to improve completeness and accuracy of ADR classification.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages4
JournalHealth Information Management Journal
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 21 Dec 2021


  • adverse drug reactions
  • documentation
  • electronic health record
  • hospitals
  • patient safety

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