Medication error rates to be reduced by technology
Two studies, presented (Tuesday 6 January) at a major academic conference, reveal the gender difference in activity levels among school children and the over 70s. Both studies show males to be more physically active than females. The two studies are being presented at the UK Society for Behavioural Medicine annual conference (incorporating the National Prevention
Full Post: Females of all ages are less active than their male peers
The use of new information technology could significantly reduce the number of drug-related injuries in Australian hospitals, according to Professor Johanna Westbrook.
While virtually no data exists on local medication-related error rates, overseas figures indicate that one-third of all preventable medication-related harm is caused by drug administration errors.
Professor Westbrook is currently heading research into the use of revolutionary electronic medication management systems (e-MMS). Funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council, the world-first program is designed to examine whether these systems have a significant impact on patient care and the efficiency of medical professionals.
“Electronic prescribing allows doctors to move from prescribing on paper to actually typing their order into a computer, then having the benefit of support which guides them in their decision-making processes,” she explains. “For example, it can send them an alert to say, ‘the patient is allergic to the drug you’ve ordered’, or, ‘this patient is already on a drug which interacts detrimentally with the drug you’re about to prescribe’. The idea is that these systems will reduce prescribing errors.”
Professor Westbrook says the first half of the three-year study has been centred on determining the rate of prescribing and administration errors prior to the introduction of e-MMs, while the second phase is currently looking at whether the introduction of the technology leads to a decrease.
“I think it’s very clear that information technology is going to dramatically change the way healthcare is provided, both in Australia and internationally,” she says. “What has been missing has been the research that actually looks at the impact of these initiatives on patient care and also on the work of health professionals.”
Another key component of the research is focused on the potential benefits of e-MMs to nursing staff, who are largely responsible for overseeing the medication administration process.
“Instead of using a paper medication chart, nurses can bring up the patient’s electronic medication administration record, which can also assist them in reducing the chances of error,” she says. “This support may stem from an alert that indicates that certain drugs are overdue, while the fact it’s on computer means that information is actually legible. In the past, a lot of errors have occurred because nurses haven’t been able to read drug orders that have been written.”
Professor Robert Steele, Head of Discipline of the university’s Health Informatics discipline, agrees that the innovative application of information and communication technologies to the wider realm of healthcare constitutes an enormous growth area.
“It’s been recognised that the use of information and communications technology is one of the key ways that we’re going to be able to address the already large and increasingly overwhelming future expenditure issues surrounding healthcare,” he says. “These technologies can also facilitate greater patient safety as well as a better quality of life for patients. It will allow the streamlining of medical processes and may also offer many advantages in terms of prevention and ongoing health monitoring and management.”
Professor Steele is also the coordinator of the university’s Masters of Health Informatics degree, a cutting edge course designed to equip graduates with the skills to assume specialist health informatics roles.
“These are people that may ultimately become information systems managers or CIOs in hospitals or other health-related organisations,” he says. “It’s a degree that will up-skill graduates and is an ideal qualification for further professional development in the field.”
Significantly, the University of Sydney is the only educational facility in Australia with a Masters in Health Informatics program and a health informatics research centre.
Seven percent of adults and 19 percent of children taking chemotherapy drugs in outpatient clinics or at home were given the wrong dose or experienced other mistakes involving their medications, according to a new study supported in part by HHS’ Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality through its Centers for Education and Research on Therapeutics
Full Post: Medication errors among adults and children with cancer in the outpatient setting common
A major cross institutional research collaboration aimed at reducing the number of patients harmed in Australia has received $8.4 million in funding in the latest round of National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) program grants. With current research showing that patient harm occurs in 10 per centof hospital admissions, and that less than
Full Post: $8.4 million research grant to improve patient safety in Australia
Across the nation concerns about health-care quality and costs are growing. For the first time, both candidates aspiring to the nation’s highest office are looking to greater reliance on electronic medical records as critical to any remedy. In Indianapolis, they and the nation can see first-hand how significant a part of the solution electronic
Full Post: Citywide electronic health information exchange
Clinicians using an electronic prescribing system appear more likely to prescribe lower-cost medications, reducing drug spending, according to a report in the December 8/22 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine. “Prescription drug costs account for a significant proportion of medical spending and have been increasing rapidly,” the authors write as background information in the article.
Full Post: Electronic prescribing system may encourage physicians to prescribe lower-cost medications
Intravenous patient-controlled analgesia (PCA) allows patients to control their own pain medication, but a new study published in the December 2008 issue of The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety shows that errors related to this practice are four times more likely to result in patient harm than errors that occur with other
Full Post: Patient harm more common with patient-controlled pain medication