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What are Medication-Related Problems?


"Medication-Related Problem" is a term defined in 1990 to include 8 types of medication-related problems, one of which is adverse drug reaction. The 8 types of medication related problems can be grouped into the categories below: 


  1. Underuse of medications Untreated indications.
  • The patient has a medical problem that requires drug therapy but is not receiving a drug for that indication or condition.
  • Subtherapeutic dosage. The patient has a medical problem and is taking too little of the correct medication.

  1. Overuse of medications
  • Drug use without indication. The patient is taking a medication without a valid indication or reason for use.

  • Overdosage. The patient has a medical problem that is being treated with too much of the correct medication.

  1. Use of inappropriate medications 
  • Improper drug selection. The patient has a drug indication but is taking the wrong drug, or is taking a drug that is not the most appropriate for the special needs of thesenior patient. 

  1. Lack of adherence to drug therapy (patient non-compliance)  
  • Failure to receive medication. The patient has a medical problem that is the result of not receiving a medication due to economic, psychological, sociological, or pharmaceutical reasons. 

  1. Adverse drug reactions, including drug interactions
  • Adverse drug reactions. The patient has a medical problem that is the result of an adverse drug reaction or adverse effect.

  • Drug interactions. The patient has a medical problem that is the result of a drug-drug, drug-food, or drug-laboratory test interaction.


Definition of above terms


  • A side-effect is an extension of the usual effect of the drug (e.g. drowsiness with Benadryl© (diphenhydramine) is a side-effect if you are treating allergies).


  • A side-effect is one type of adverse drug reaction. Other types include allergic reactions and those reactions specific to an individual.


  • An adverse drug reaction event is any patient injury resulting from use of a drug, whether due to an adverse drug reaction or a medication error.


Some adverse drug reactions do not result in injury to a patient, but may just be a minor annoyance.

Medication error is a separate term with its own definition. The National Coordinating Council on Medication Error Reporting and Prevention has a standard definition. 

Many of these terms overlap but they each have distinct meanings.








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