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Study: Using Mobile for Drug Information Helps Prevent Adverse Events

October 16, 2013
by Gabriel Perna
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Nearly 90 percent of 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, a new study from researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine Department of Biomedical Informatics.

For the study, which was published last week in the Journal of the American Medical Directors Association, surveyed more than 550 nursing home doctors attending the 2010 annual meeting of the American Medical Directors Association about how they use mobile health (mHealth) devices, particularly around the type of drug reference software they use. They asked questions on 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.

What they found was 42 percent of study participants 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. Impressively, 88 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.

"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," Steven M. Handler, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of biomedical informatics, geriatric medicine, and clinical and translational sciences at Pitt School of Medicine, said in a statement. "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 drug information first, many of these mistakes could be avoided."

Dr. Handler said that those who did look up medication information on their mobile devices clearly felt that this was helpful and improved medication safety. However, the problem was that fewer than half of the nursing home doctors were doing this.

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