Drug side-effect reporting increases with electronic record use

While many doctors still aren't sold on the use of electronic records for patients, some holdouts may be swayed by the news of improved drug side-effect reporting due to EHR use. 

As covered by our sister publication FiercePharma--and originally reported by the Wall Street Journal--26 doctors participating in a small study conducted at Massachusetts General and Brigham & Women's hospitals found that in a five-month span from December 2008 to May 2009, 217 drug side effects were reported to Food and Drug Administration regulators as a result of electronic health record use. The same group of doctors reported zero side effects in the year before. 

The study, which was sponsored by Pfizer, was published online last week in the journal Pharmacoepidemiology and Drug Safety

"Physicians in the United States report fewer than 1 percent of adverse drug events [ADEs] to the FDA, but frequently document ADEs within electronic health records," the report's authors wrote. The researchers developed and implemented a generalizable, scalable EHR-based system to automatically send electronic ADE reports to the FDA in real-time.

Essentially, anytime a doctor documented any kind of adverse drug event in a patient's record, an alert was created that prompted that doctor to create a report, which then was sent to the FDA. About 20 percent of the reports sent dealt with a "serious" side effect, such as a hospitalization. 

Dr. Jeffrey Linder, the study's lead author, wants to expand the program to other doctors at each hospital, as well as to other hospitals, according to the Journal

To learn more:
- here's the study's abstract
- read FiercePharma's write up
- here's the Wall Street Journal article