October 25, 2012

Scientists Look To Reduce HIV Medication Errors

Researchers recently found that, even though the electronic medical records have helped improve health technology, there are still a number of errors made in the prescription of antiretroviral medication for HIV-positive patients who are hospitalized. These errors can be life threatening for the patients who are unsuspecting victims. The scientists believe that there are a number of solutions that could help decrease the number of errors and the findings were highlighted at last week’s Infectious Disease Week 2012.

The project included three studies, including two that observed the difficulty that hospitals have in terms of treating patients with HIV but not trying not endanger them at the same time with impromptu administration or drug toxicity. One particular study at the Cleveland Clinic included the charts of 162 admitted patients who were HIV-positive during a 10-month period in 2011. They found that the prescription errors with antiretroviral therapy was 50 percent, and two-thirds of the mistakes were not solved or addressed before the patients were discharged from the hospital.

“Treatment of HIV infection is complex, involving the administration of multiple drugs that often have the potential for major interactions,” remarked Dr. Joel E. Gallant, the IDWeek chair for the HIV Medicine Association, in a prepared statement. “Hospitalized patients are at risk for serious medication errors, especially when drugs are added or changed by physicians without HIV expertise. These studies emphasize the critical importance of electronic medical records and early expert consultation in hospitalized HIV-infected patients to prevent dangerous and costly medication errors.”

Researchers believe that one reason as to why there are errors is the fact that HIV care is constantly changing and much of the care is also done in outpatient settings.

“The number and complexity of medications used to treat HIV and an unfamiliarity with seeing patients with these medications can lead to errors,” explained Elizabether Neuner, an infectious disease clinical pharmacist at the Cleveland Clinic, in the statement.

Another study took place over an 18-month period at the University of Chicago Medical Center. Researchers looked at 155 HIV antiretroviral therapies and found that almost half of the initial regimens required intervention so that the dosages could be changed. Based on these findings, the scientist at University of Chicago Medical Center believe that teaching hospitals could have higher error rates as their medical and pharmacy students do not have much experience.

“Data indicate that hospitals need to provide additional educational trainings and create innovative ways to catch and prevent these errors,” remarked Natasha Pettit, a clinical pharmacy specialist with the University of Chicago Medicine, in the statement.

The third study, which took place in Michigan, observed the affect of medication medications when an HIV outpatient clinic worked to keep the patients’’ antiretroviral prescriptions updates in a major hospital’s electronic records. As a result, the error rate dropped by 93 percent.

“It resulted in better care for our patients when they were hospitalized,” noted lead researcher Jean Lee, a clinical pharmacist for HIV medicine at Special Immunology Services, in the statement. “We demonstrated that we can improve patient safety and show a financial benefit.”

Image Credit: Photos.com

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Email