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      Management of drug interactions with beta-blockers: continuing education has a short-term impact

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          There is a lack of clear guidelines regarding the management of drug-drug interactions.


          To assess the impact of an educational intervention on the management of drug interactions with beta-blockers.


          The study had a controlled before-and-after design. The intervention group (n=10 pharmacies) received a continuing education course and guidelines on the management of drug interactions with beta-blockers. The control group (n=10 pharmacies) received no intervention. Pharmacy students and staff of internship pharmacies participated in this study. Before and after the intervention, students registered interactions with beta-blockers during two weeks. Information was obtained on drug information of the beta-blocker and the interacting drug, patient’s demographics, and the mode of transaction.


          A total number of 288 interactions were detected during both study periods. Most beta-blockers causing an interaction were prescribed for hypertension, and interacted with hypoglycemic agents, NSAIDs, or beta2-agonists. Pharmacists’ intervention rate was low (14% in the pre-test compared to 39% in the post-test), but increased significantly in the post-test in the intervention group. Reasons for overriding the interaction included limited clinical relevance, refill prescriptions, not being aware of the interaction, and communication problems with the prescriber.


          An interactive continuing education course, during which practice-oriented guidelines were offered, affected pharmacists’ short-term behavior at the counter in dealing with interactions of beta-blockers. Continuing education plays a role in raising pharmacists’ awareness and responsibility towards the detection and management of drug interactions in the pharmacy.

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          Most cited references 34

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          Adverse drug reactions as cause of admission to hospital: prospective analysis of 18 820 patients.

          To ascertain the current burden of adverse drug reactions (ADRs) through a prospective analysis of all admissions to hospital. Prospective observational study. Two large general hospitals in Merseyside, England. 18 820 patients aged > 16 years admitted over six months and assessed for cause of admission. Prevalence of admissions due to an ADR, length of stay, avoidability, and outcome. There were 1225 admissions related to an ADR, giving a prevalence of 6.5%, with the ADR directly leading to the admission in 80% of cases. The median bed stay was eight days, accounting for 4% of the hospital bed capacity. The projected annual cost of such admissions to the NHS is 466m pounds sterling (706m Euros, 847m dollars). The overall fatality was 0.15%. Most reactions were either definitely or possibly avoidable. Drugs most commonly implicated in causing these admissions included low dose aspirin, diuretics, warfarin, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs other than aspirin, the most common reaction being gastrointestinal bleeding. The burden of ADRs on the NHS is high, accounting for considerable morbidity, mortality, and extra costs. Although many of the implicated drugs have proved benefit, measures need to be put into place to reduce the burden of ADRs and thereby further improve the benefit:harm ratio of the drugs.
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            Systems analysis of adverse drug events. ADE Prevention Study Group.

            To identify and evaluate the systems failures that underlie errors causing adverse drug events (ADEs) and potential ADEs. Systems analysis of events from a prospective cohort study. All admissions to 11 medical and surgical units in two tertiary care hospitals over a 6-month period. Errors, proximal causes, and systems failures. Errors were detected by interviews of those involved. Errors were classified according to proximal cause and underlying systems failure by multidisciplinary teams of physicians, nurses, pharmacists, and systems analysts. During this period, 334 errors were detected as the causes of 264 preventable ADEs and potential ADEs. Sixteen major systems failures were identified as the underlying causes of the errors. The most common systems failure was in the dissemination of drug knowledge, particularly to physicians, accounting for 29% of the 334 errors. Inadequate availability of patient information, such as the results of laboratory tests, was associated with 18% of errors. Seven systems failures accounted for 78% of the errors; all could be improved by better information systems. Hospital personnel willingly participated in the detection and investigation of drug use errors and were able to identify underlying systems failures. The most common defects were in systems to disseminate knowledge about drugs and to make drug and patient information readily accessible at the time it is needed. Systems changes to improve dissemination and display of drug and patient data should make errors in the use of drugs less likely.
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              Physicians' decisions to override computerized drug alerts in primary care.

              Although computerized physician order entry reduces medication errors among inpatients, little is known about the use of this system in primary care. We calculated the override rate among 3481 consecutive alerts generated at 5 adult primary care practices that use a common computerized physician order entry system for prescription writing. For detailed review, we selected a random sample of 67 alerts in which physicians did not prescribe an alerted medication and 122 alerts that resulted in a written prescription. We identified factors associated with the physicians' decisions to override a medication alert, and determined whether an adverse drug event (ADE) occurred. Physicians overrode 91.2% of drug allergy and 89.4% of high-severity drug interaction alerts. In the multivariable analysis using the medical chart review sample (n = 189), physicians were less likely to prescribe an alerted medication if the prescriber was a house officer (odds ratio [OR], 0.26; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.08-0.84) and if the patient had many drug allergies (OR, 0.70; 95% CI, 0.53-0.93). They were more likely to override alerts for renewals compared with new prescriptions (OR, 17.74; 95% CI, 5.60-56.18). We found no ADEs in cases where physicians observed the alert and 3 ADEs among patients with alert overrides, a nonsignificant difference (P =.55). Physician reviewers judged that 36.5% of the alerts were inappropriate. Few physicians changed their prescription in response to a drug allergy or interaction alert, and there were few ADEs, suggesting that the threshold for alerting was set too low. Computerized physician order entry systems should suppress alerts for renewals of medication combinations that patients currently tolerate.

                Author and article information

                Pharm Pract (Granada)
                Pharm Pract (Granada)
                Pharm Pract
                Pharmacy Practice
                Centro de Investigaciones y Publicaciones Farmaceuticas
                26 October 2006
                : 4
                : 3
                : 143-150
                Research Centre for Pharmaceutical Care and Pharmaco-economics, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven , (Belgium)
                Research Centre for Pharmaceutical Care and Pharmaco-economics, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven , (Belgium)
                Research Centre for Pharmaceutical Care and Pharmaco-economics, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven , (Belgium).
                Copyright: © Pharmacy Practice

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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