Marshfield Clinic improves drug safety through alerts

A drug safety alert program at the Marshfield Clinic provides up-to-date information to help inform drug therapy decisions, according to a report in the Journal of Managed Care & Specialty Pharmacy.

The nonprofit group practice in Wisconsin created the program to educate employees on drug safety communications by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and drug manufacturers. It also aimed to point out patients who were given meds "for which concerns were raised."

The program uses an internal scoring system to rate the severity of the drug alert and is linked with the facility's electronic health record system, which has an electronic prescribing platform, the report says. When a safety alert receives a score of 80 percent or higher, educational letters are sent out to clinicians that include a list of patients who have been prescribed the medication.

Redesigned medical alerts in electronic health records can reduce prescribing errors and provider workloads, and increase user satisfaction, according to a study published last year in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association.

To find out the impact of the program, Marshfield looked at the prescribing data, and what changes to drug therapy were made based on the alerts.

"In aggregate, 10,337 total [potential adverse drug events] were identified with baseline data from the initiative, and 8,007 were resolved by changes in prescribing," according to the report.

The repot's authors add that cost savings haven't been determined, but costs of creating the program were "modest." In addition, the program helps to reduce alert fatigue, a widespread problem in healthcare, the report says.

Future research on drug safety alert initiatives should look at reviewing scoring criteria and alert systems used in other facilities, to see what would best fit their needs and works best with their workplace culture, the author's say.

To learn more:
- here's the report