VA Turns to Tech to Improve Medication Safety

Published Online: Thursday, September 13, 2012
Use of 2 databases to monitor adverse drug reactions has helped Veterans Administration (VA) hospitals monitor medication safety, with the potential for improvements throughout the VA health care system.

The system overview, which was published in the February 2012 edition of the American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy, comes after years of news reports documenting medical mistakes that include medication and dosing errors at VA hospitals. In some cases, such as at a VA hospital in Philadelphia, the errors resulted in federal fines, according to news sources that include The New York Times.

Improving the database allows the VA to track, monitor, and report drug reactions across its health care facility network, according to the overview. In particular, the linked nature of the databases, as well as the connection to other VA hospitals, enhances pharmacovigilance and medication safety procedures and practices.

The enhanced system includes 2 components: the Adverse Reaction Tracking database and the Veterans Administration Adverse Drug Event Reporting System (VA ADERS). The Adverse Reaction Tracking database extracts textbased patient information from the VA electronic medical record system, where it is entered at the point of care within the hospital in which it is used. The VA ADERS is an external information source containing data collected from 146 VA facilities.

The VA ADERS database is integrated with the federal MedWatch program, allowing staff to report certain adverse drug reactions through a rapid electronic system.

Both databases can report and track adverse reactions on local, regional, and national levels. In addition, the databases can be used concurrently to develop patterns of adverse drug reactions and reporting rates, as well as to establish benchmark data.


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