Table of Contents
ISRN Public Health
Volume 2013, Article ID 214893, 5 pages
Research Article

Analysis of Medication-Related Deaths in Denmark

1Department of Anaesthesia, Hvidovre Hospital, University of Copenhagen, Kettegaard Alle 30, 2650 Copenhagen, Denmark
2Gynaecology and Obstetrics, The Danish Patient Insurance Association, Nytorv 5, 1450 Copenhagen, Denmark

Received 22 April 2013; Accepted 4 June 2013

Academic Editors: A. R. Mawson and R. Spiewak

Copyright © 2013 Lars Dahlgaard Hove et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Objective. To investigate the circumstances associated with medication-related deaths. Design and Setting. This retrospective study investigated closed claims concerning medication-related deaths from 1996 to 2008 registered by the Danish Patient Insurance Association (DPIA). Results. A total of 80 were patients registered as having died because of an adverse event or error associated with a medication, and 37 of these cases were considered to have been preventable. The circumstances of the 37 deaths are described in detail in this report. Orthopaedic surgery, anaesthesiology, and internal medicine were the specialties involved in the majority of the deaths. Incorrect dosing was the cause of 17 deaths, and the use of the wrong drug caused 11 deaths. The administration of a drug despite a known allergy/intolerance or contraindication caused 6 deaths. Other 5 deaths were caused by anticoagulation medications. Methotrexate given daily by mistake caused 2 deaths. Conclusion. This study describes the circumstances of 37 preventable deaths caused by medication. Drug administration despite a known allergy, opioids, sedative, anticonvulsive medicine, and incorrect dosing and incorrect use of anticoagulants are the most important areas to be addressed in the development of future patient safety measures to reduce patient deaths caused by or related to medications.