Using mobile devices to look up drug info prevents adverse events in nursing homes

Nearly nine out of 10 nursing home physicians said that using their mobile devices to look up prescription drug information prevented at least one adverse drug event in the previous month, according to a University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine Department of Biomedical Informatics study published last week in the Journal of the American Medical Directors Association.

Adverse drug events are associated with an estimated 93,000 deaths and $4 billion in excess health care costs in each year, said lead investigator Steven M. Handler, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of biomedical informatics, geriatric medicine, and clinical and translational sciences at Pitt School of Medicine. In the nursing home setting, half of these events are thought to be preventable.

"Most U.S. nursing homes do not have electronic medical record systems and, as a result, physicians frequently do not have access to current medication information at the point of prescribing," Dr. Handler said. "The lack of accurate and timely medication information can lead to adverse drug events and drug-drug interactions. Our hypothesis was that if physicians could look up first, many of these mistakes could be avoided."

For the study, he and his team surveyed more than 550 nursing home doctors attending the 2010 annual meeting of the American Medical Directors Association about their ownership and use patterns of mobile devices, the type of drug reference software on these devices and how frequently it was used, and the perceived impact of drug reference information obtained from the devices on adverse drug events and drug-drug interactions.

The researchers found that 42 percent of study participants said they used a mobile device to check drug information, and greater use was more common amongst those who had been in practice for less than 15 years. Of the device users, almost all (98 percent) said they used drug reference software daily in the previous four weeks, and three-quarters reported an average of three or more lookups daily.

Eighty-eight percent of the participants reported that using a mobile device to check drug information prevented one or more potential adverse drug events in the previous four weeks, leading to greater patient safety.

"To our knowledge, this is the first large study of the use of drug reference software on mobile devices in the nursing home setting," Dr. Handler said. "Those who did look up medication information on their clearly felt that this was helpful and improved medication safety. However, we found that fewer than half of the nursing home doctors were doing this, which suggests that there is a lot of potential to reduce adverse event rates further if more of them took advantage of these tools."

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Big data reaps big rewards in drug safety

Oct 09, 2013

Using the Food and Drug Administration's Adverse Event Reporting System (FAERS), a hospital electronic health records database, and an animal model, a team of researchers at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai report ...

US nursing homes reducing use of antipsychotic drugs

Aug 27, 2013

(HealthDay)—A year-old nationwide effort to prevent the unnecessary use of antipsychotic medications in U.S. nursing homes already seems to be working, public health officials report, as facilities begin ...

Tablets help physicians keep up with medical research

Jul 23, 2013

(HealthDay)—Most physicians find keeping up with the latest research to be challenging, but the use of tablets and smartphones may help, according to a report published by Wolters Kluwer Health.

Recommended for you

Using computers to design drugs

Aug 22, 2014

Designing a new medicine is an expensive and time consuming business. Typically it takes around $2 billion and ten years for a new drug to move from its initial design in the lab, to the clinic. All the ...

Lilly psoriasis drug fares well in late-stage test

Aug 22, 2014

Drugmaker Eli Lilly and Co. said its potential psoriasis treatment fared better than both a fake drug and a competitor's product during late-stage testing on patients with the most common form of the skin disease.

New US restrictions on painkiller to take effect

Aug 21, 2014

The federal government is finalizing new restrictions on hundreds of medicines containing hydrocodone, the highly addictive painkiller that has grown into the most widely prescribed drug in the U.S.

User comments