Study objective: To determine whether a computerized Drug Renal Alert Pharmacy (DRAP) program could decrease the rate of medication errors in drug selection or dosing for 15 target drugs in patients with renal insufficiency.
Design: Randomized, controlled, population-based effectiveness trial.
Setting: A large integrated health care delivery system.
Patients: A total of 32,917 health plan members who were at least 18 years old, had an estimated creatinine clearance of 50 ml/minute or lower, and were not receiving dialysis between December 1, 2003, and February 28, 2005, were randomly assigned to either the intervention group (16,577 patients) or usual care (control) group (16,340 patients). Of the 32,917 patients, 6125 patients (3025 in the intervention group and 3100 in the usual care group) were prescribed at least one target drug and were included in the analysis.
Intervention: A computerized tool--the DRAP program--was used to alert pharmacists at the time of dispensing to possible errors in target drug selection and dosing for patients with renal insufficiency. The 15 target drugs were previously identified based on frequency of use in our health care system and risk of serious adverse events.
Measurements and main results: The primary outcome was the proportion of medication errors, defined as target drugs that should be avoided or were dosed inappropriately, in the intervention and usual care groups. The Reach, Effectiveness, Adoption, Implementation, Maintenance (RE-AIM) framework was used to evaluate the intervention's potential for translation and generalizability. Among the 6125 patients who received a target drug, no significant differences were noted in age, sex, creatinine clearance, comorbid conditions, and number of target drugs between groups at baseline. Over the 15-month intervention period, the proportion of medication errors was significantly lower in the intervention group than the usual care group (33% vs 49%, p<0.001). After the study period, when the intervention was expanded to both groups, a 20% reduction in errors was sustained in the combined groups over the subsequent 7 months.
Conclusion: The DRAP program was successful in reducing medication errors for patients with renal insufficiency in an ambulatory setting and was demonstrated to have sustainability after study completion.