Jill C. Auger

University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, Massachusetts, United States

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Publications (4)16.02 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Computerized physician order entry with clinical decision support has been shown to improve medication safety in adult inpatients, but few data are available regarding its usefulness in the long-term care setting. The objective of this study was to examine opportunities for improving medication safety in that clinical setting by determining the proportion of medication orders that would generate a warning message to the prescriber via a computerized clinical decision support system and assessing the extent to which these alerts would affect prescribers' actions. The study was set within a randomized controlled trial of computerized clinical decision support conducted in the long-stay units of a large, academically-affiliated long-term care facility. In March 2002, a computer-based clinical decision support system (CDSS) was added to an existing computerized physician order entry (CPOE) system. Over a subsequent one-year study period, prescribers ordering drugs for residents on three resident-care units of the facility were presented with alerts; these alerts were not displayed to prescribers in the four control units. We assessed the frequency of drug orders associated with various categories of alerts across all participating units of the facility. To assess the impact of actually receiving an alert on prescriber behavior during drug ordering, we calculated separately for the intervention and control units the proportion of the alerts, within each category, that were followed by an appropriate action and estimated the relative risk of an appropriate action in the intervention units compared to the control units. During the 12 months of the study, there were 445 residents on the participating units of the facility, contributing 3,726 resident-months of observation time. During this period, 47,997 medication orders were entered through the CPOE system-approximately 9 medication orders per resident per month. 9,414 alerts were triggered (2.5 alerts per resident-month). The alert categories most often triggered were related to risks of central nervous system side-effects such as over-sedation (20%). Alerts for risk of drug-associated constipation (13%) or renal insufficiency/electrolyte imbalance (12%) were also common. Twelve percent of the alerts were related to orders for warfarin. Overall, prescribers who received alerts were only slightly more likely to take an appropriate action (relative risk 1.11, 95% confidence interval 1.00, 1.22). Alerts related to orders for warfarin or central nervous system side effects were most likely to engender an appropriate action, such as ordering a recommended laboratory test or canceling an ordered drug. Long-term care facilities must implement new system-level approaches with the potential to improve medication safety for their residents. The number of medication orders that triggered a warning message in this study suggests that CPOE with a clinical decision support system may represent one such tool. However, the relatively low rate of response to these alerts suggests that further refinements to such systems are required, and that their impact on medication errors and adverse drug events must be carefully assessed.
    Full-text · Article · Jul 2006 · Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association
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    ABSTRACT: Recent research suggests that letters to healthcare providers may not effectively communicate safety-related information. This study examined whether content, organization, and formatting of dear doctor letters (DDLs) influences physicians' responses to the letters. Drugs with warning label changes during 2000 and 2001 were identified, and corresponding DDLs were obtained. Letters were coded for content, organization, and formatting. Ten physicians rated letters on presentation, criticalness of the information, and likelihood of changing practice as a result of the letter. Areas of deficiency were identified. The relationships between key characteristics of the letters and physicians' ratings were examined using correlations; reliability of physicians' ratings was estimated using generalizability theory. For 2000 and 2001, 124 drugs were identified as having had changes to the warning section of the label; DDLs were sent in 32 (25.8%) instances. Letters varied in terms of the placement of key information, use of formatting, and length. Physicians' ratings suggested 25% of the letters were deficient in clarity, 28% in readability, 36% in the ratio of relevant information to supporting information, 36% in key information easily discernable, and 28% in overall effectiveness of communication. Letters with formatting highlighting key information were preferred. Letter length and placement of key information were not correlated with physicians' ratings. Many DDLs do not communicate labeling changes clearly and effectively. If DDLs are used to communicate safety information to physicians, special formatting and explicit wording should be used to emphasize new information.
    No preview · Article · Dec 2005 · Pharmacoepidemiology and Drug Safety
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    ABSTRACT: To assess the incidence of and risk factors for adverse drug events in the long-term care setting. We performed a cohort study of all long-stay residents of two academic long-term care facilities over a period of up to 9 months during 2000 to 2001. We assessed the number of adverse drug events, the severity of events (classified as less serious, serious, life threatening, or fatal), and whether the events were preventable. A case-control study was nested within the prospective study to identify resident-level risk factors for the occurrence of adverse drug events. There were 815 adverse drug events, of which 42% were judged preventable. The overall rate of adverse drug events was 9.8 per 100 resident-months, with a rate of 4.1 preventable adverse drug events per 100 resident-months. Errors associated with preventable events occurred most often at the stages of ordering and monitoring. Residents taking medications in several drug categories were at increased risk of a preventable adverse event. In multivariate analyses, the adjusted odds ratio was 3.4 (95% confidence interval [CI]: 2.0 to 5.9) for those taking antipsychotic agents, 2.8 (95% CI: 1.6 to 4.7) for those taking anticoagulants, 2.2 (95% CI: 1.2 to 4.0) for those taking diuretics, and 2.0 (95% CI: 1.1 to 3.7) for those taking antiepileptics. Our findings reinforce the need for a special focus on the ordering and monitoring stages of pharmaceutical care for preventing adverse drug events in the long-term care setting. Patients taking antipsychotic agents, anticoagulants, diuretics, and antiepileptics are at increased risk.
    Full-text · Article · Apr 2005 · The American Journal of Medicine
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    ABSTRACT: To gather information on patient-level factors associated with risk of adverse drug events (ADEs) that may allow focus of prevention efforts on patients at high risk. Nested case-control study. Large multispecialty group practice in New England. All Medicare enrollees cared for by a multispecialty group practice during 1 year (N=30,397 person-years from July 1, 1999, through June 30, 2000). For each patient with an ADE, a control was randomly selected. Data were abstracted from medical records on age, sex, comorbidities, and medication use at the time of the event. ADEs were identified in 1,299 older adults. Independent risk factors included being female and aged 80 and older. There were dose-response associations with the Charlson Comorbidity Index and number of scheduled medications. Patients taking anticoagulants, antidepressants, antibiotics, cardiovascular drugs, diuretics, hormones, and corticosteroids were at increased risk. In the analysis of preventable ADEs, the dose-response relationship with comorbidity and number of medications remained. Patients taking nonopioid analgesics (predominantly nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs and acetaminophen), anticoagulants, diuretics, and anti-seizure medications were at increased risk. Prevention efforts to reduce ADEs should be targeted toward older adults with multiple medical conditions or taking multiple medications, nonopioid analgesics, anticoagulants, diuretics, and antiseizure medications.
    Full-text · Article · Sep 2004 · Journal of the American Geriatrics Society