Each year in British Columbia, adverse drug events (ADEs), the unintended harmful reactions to medication use, result in 240,000 emergency department visits and 480,000 hospital days, with their treatment adding $90 million to health care costs. Seniors, the highest users of medications, experience the greatest proportion of adverse drug events.
Up to 70 percent of ADEs have been identified as preventable, with 30 percent occurring when health care providers unknowingly re-prescribe and re-dispense drugs that had previously harmed patients. Current electronic systems are not effective in preventing the unintentional prescribing of culprit or contraindicated drugs as ADEs are often not documented in medical records, and not communicated between care providers and across health care sectors.
Dr. Ellen Balka, a communication and technology expert and professor at Simon Fraser University (SFU) and Dr. Corinne Hohl from the University of British Columbia’s (UBC) Department of Emergency Medicine and Vancouver General Hospital are leading the ActionADE project to reduce ADEs. The team will implement and evaluate an ADE reporting platform through PharmaNet — BC’s provincial drug billing system — and integrate into existing health care practices. The goal of the platform is to bridge current information gaps and address the need for improved communication of ADEs across health care settings and providers by generating real-time patient- and medication-specific alerts about previous ADEs for clinicians when prescribing or dispensing medications.
The project team, based at the Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute’s Centre for Epidemiology and Evaluation, worked with industry partner PHEMI of Vancouver to develop the ActionADE software that will be used by hospital-based and family physicians, in-hospital and community-based pharmacists and other health care providers. Decision-making authorities, including government and researchers, will have access to the data generated. It is estimated the ActionADE platform will help avoid as many as one-third of the preventable ADEs, translating into more than 40,000 fewer ED visits, saving the provincial health care system as much as $18 million annually.
In 2018, Hohl received an MSFHR Health Professional-Investigator Award related to this project.