Incidence, preventability and consequences of adverse events in older people: results of a retrospective case-note review

Ali B. A. Sari, Alison Cracknell, Trevor A. Sheldon

Research output: Contribution to journalLiterature reviewpeer-review


Objectives: to estimate the extent, preventability and consequences of adverse clinical events in elderly and non-elderly patients.

Design: a two-stage structured, retrospective, patient case-note review.

Setting: a large NHS hospital in England.

Population: a random sample of 1,006 non-psychiatric patients.

Main Outcome Measures: proportion of patients with adverse events, the proportion of preventable adverse events and the types and consequences of adverse events in patients 75 and under 75years old.

Results: forty five [13.5%; 95% confidence interval (CI) 1017] of 332patients >= 75 years and 42 (6.2%; 95% CI 48) of 674 patients < 75years had at least one adverse event. There was a significantly raised risk of experiencing an adverse event with increasing age [odds ratio (OR) = 1.03 adverse events per year of life, P < 0.001]. There was no statistically significant difference in preventability of adverse events and also in experiencing disability or death as a result of an adverse event by age after adjustment for potential confounders.

Conclusion: adverse events are significantly more common in non-psychiatric elderly inpatients than younger patients. There is little evidence that adverse events in older patients are more preventable and lead to disability or death more frequently.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)265-269
Number of pages5
JournalAge and Ageing
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - May 2008


  • adverse events
  • case-note review
  • prevention
  • older people
  • patient safety
  • CARE

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