• critical care;
  • intensive care units;
  • adverse drug reaction reporting systems;
  • adverse drug event;
  • discharge summary;
  • pharmacoepidemiology



This study aimed to determine the frequency and type of adverse drug events (ADEs) identified in intensive care unit (ICU) transfer summaries and in the hospital discharge summaries to demonstrate the effectiveness of ICU transfer summary surveillance in the identification of ADEs.


A retrospective electronic medical record review was conducted for medical ICU patients admitted between January 2009 and April 2009 to a large, academic medical center. The Harvard Practice Scale and the modified Leonard Assessment Scale were used to evaluate the presence of an ADE from the ICU transfer and hospital discharge summaries.


Two hundred and fifty-four patients were identified for inclusion with a median medical ICU length of stay of 4.5 days and hospital length of stay of 13 days. The ICU transfer summary review revealed 173 ADEs among 124 unique patients with a rate of 33.9 ADEs per 1000 hospital patient days. Sixty-nine ADEs among 63 unique patients were identified through the hospital discharge summary with a rate of 13.5 ADEs per 1000 hospital patient days. Only 23.1% of ADEs discussed in the ICU transfer summary were also discussed in the hospital discharge summary.


The use of ICU transfer summaries is an effective tool to increase ADE detection. The use of an ICU transfer summary should be considered as an adjunct method to an existing ADE surveillance system for heightened pharmacovigilance. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.