Study: EHRs help ferret out adverse drug events

Electronic health records can be a "valuable resource" to improve medication safety by validating previously reported adverse drug reactions (ADRs) and detecting new ones, according to a recently published study in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association.

Early detection of ADRs can lead to alerts that prevent patient harm, according to the study's authors, from Vanderbilt University Medical Center. However, not all ADRs are detected during a drug's clinical trials, since those studies are smaller and of shorter duration. The researchers recommended that medications be studied in real time clinical pharmacovigilance surveillance to identify ADRs due to prescribing errors, many of which are preventable.

The researchers used 12 years of Vanderbilt's EHR data to correlate abnormal lab results with specific drug administrations by comparing outcomes of a drug exposed group of hospitalized patients to a matched unexposed group. They used the EHRs to create a dataset of 375 drug-event pairs, using nine drugs and 42 lab abnormalities.  They found that the analysis identified a high amount of correlation between the two with precision ranging from 62 percent to 77 percent.

"Identifying ADRs accurately and in a timely manner is a constant challenge, and critical for patient safety," the authors wrote. "This paper demonstrated that it is feasible to detect known ADR signals as well as identify new ADRs using inpatient laboratory results and time-stamped records of medication orders."

Other studies have used data analytics and surveillance to detect ADRs earlier, using EHR information and even the information obtained via social media.

To learn more:
- here's the study abstract