Assessing the potential adoption and usefulness of concurrent, action-oriented, electronic adverse drug event triggers designed for the outpatient setting

EGEMS (Wash DC). 2015 Apr 30;3(1):1116. doi: 10.13063/2327-9214.1116. eCollection 2015.


Background: Adverse drug event (ADE) detection is an important priority for patient safety research. Trigger tools have been developed to help identify ADEs. In previous work we developed seven concurrent, action-oriented, electronic trigger algorithms designed to prompt clinicians to address ADEs in outpatient care.

Objectives: We assessed the potential adoption and usefulness of the seven triggers by testing the positive predictive validity and obtaining stakeholder input.

Methods: We adapted ADE triggers, "bone marrow toxin-white blood cell count (BMT-WBC)," "bone marrow toxin - platelet (BMT-platelet)," "potassium raisers," "potassium reducers," "creatinine," "warfarin," and "sedative hypnotics," with logic to suppress flagging events with evidence of clinical intervention and applied the triggers to 50,145 patients from three large health care systems. Four pharmacists assessed trigger positive predictive value (PPV) with respect to ADE detection (conservatively excluding ADEs occurring during clinically appropriate care) and clinical usefulness (i.e., whether the trigger alert could change care to prevent harm). We measured agreement between raters using the free kappa and assessed positive PPV for the trigger's detection of harm, clinical usefulness, and both. Stakeholders from the participating health care systems rated the likelihood of trigger adoption and the perceived ease of implementation.

Findings: Agreement between pharmacist raters was moderately high for each ADE trigger (kappa free > 0.60). Trigger PPVs for harm ranged from 0 (Creatinine, BMT-WBC) to 17 percent (potassium raisers), while PPV for care change ranged from 0 (WBC) to 60 percent (Creatinine). Fifteen stakeholders rated the triggers. Our assessment identified five of the seven triggers as good candidates for implementation: Creatinine, BMT-Platelet, Potassium Raisers, Potassium Reducers, and Warfarin.

Conclusions: At least five outpatient ADE triggers performed well and merit further evaluation in outpatient clinical care. When used in real time, these triggers may promote care changes to ameliorate patient harm.

Keywords: adverse drug events; outpatient care; patient safety; trigger tools.