Patients on multiple medications are at increased risk for adverse drug events. While physicians can reduce this risk by regularly reviewing the side-effect profiles of their patients' medications, this process can be time-consuming. We created a decision support system designed to expedite reviewing potential adverse reactions through information visualization. The system includes a database containing 16,340 unique drug and side-effect pairs, representing 250 common medications. A numeric score is assigned to each pair reflecting the strength of association between drug and effect. Based on these scores, the system generates graphical adverse reaction maps for any user-selected combination of drugs. A study comparing speed and accuracy of retrieving side-effect data using this tool versus UpToDate demonstrated a 60% reduction in time to complete a query (61 s vs. 155 s, p < 0.0001) with no decrease in accuracy. These findings suggest that information visualization can significantly expedite review of potential adverse drug events.
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