EMR Cuts Rx Errors for HIV Hospital Patients

Posted by: Aparna Prasad

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SAN DIEGO – Use of electronic medical records technology reduced medication errors among hospitalized HIV patients from 16% to 1.1%, a 93% reduction (P=0.002), researchers said here.

Patients living with HIV who are hospitalized for non-HIV illnesses often experience prescribing errors, researchers said here at IDWeek 2012. The most likely cause of those errors is believed to b a lack of familiarity with complex antiretroviral regimens among hospital staff, said Jean Lee, PharmD, clinical pharmacist for HIV medicine at St. Mary's Health Care, Grand Rapids, Mich.

Lee and colleagues reported results from a small EMR study at IDWeek.

At a press briefing, Lee said that the use of electronic medical records "improved patient safety and showed a financial benefit." The reduction of errors was estimated to save the hospital and patients about $25,000 for the 20 patient outcomes analyzed in the retrospective study.

The error rate experienced in Grand Rapids was considerably lower than errors in prescribing drugs for HIV patients at the Cleveland Clinic and at the University of Chicago, other researchers reported. Elizabeth Neuner, PharmD, an infectious disease clinical pharmacist at the Cleveland Clinic found that in a 10-month period, prescribing errors occurred in about half of the 162 HIV patients who were admitted to the hospital – mostly for non-HIV related treatments.

"We had a similar rate of errors," said Natasha Pettit, PharmD, a clinical pharmacy specialist at the University of Chicago. She reviewed data over an 18-month period among 155 patients receiving highly active antiretroviral therapy at her institution.

In her study of 20 patients selected at random, Lee explained that most of the errors involved the timing of medication. "For example," she told MedPage Today, "many HIV patients take their medications at night, but when they were inpatients at the hospital they were given their medications in the morning. That can cause fluctuations in medication levels, which can be problematic for HIV patients."

She also noted that hospitals tend to dose patients at 9 in the morning and 5 in the afternoon "while we tell our patients taking twice daily medication to take the drugs about 12 hours apart," she said.

Before intervention with the electronic medical record, 14 of these "timing" errors occurred in patient treatment, but that was reduced to one such error after implementation of the system, she explained.

Read the full article here. 

Topics: EHR Software, EMR Technology

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