Researchers at UBC and SFU have created innovative software to help reduce adverse drug events (ADEs), the harmful and unintended consequences of medication that send two million Canadians to emergency departments every year.
Known as ActionADE, the software—now being implemented in nine Lower Mainland hospitals with more sites to come—not only documents ADEs, but communicates with pharmacies to disable re-dispensing drugs that have led to patient harm.
“The implementation of this software into clinical care here in B.C. represents a tremendous step forward, helping to improve communication and ultimately reduce adverse drug events for patients,” says research lead Dr. Corinne Hohl, an associate professor in UBC faculty of medicine’s department of emergency medicine.
Dr. Hohl and Dr. Ellen Balka, a professor in SFU’s School of Communication, conceived ActionADE while collaborating on ways to improve information sharing in B.C.’s health care system. Together, they have spent a decade of research developing the technology.
According to the researchers, currently less than five per cent of serious ADEs are being reported, despite the recent federal Protecting Canadians from Unsafe Drugs Act (also known as Vanessa’s Law), which mandates serious adverse drug reaction reporting.
Dr. Hohl’s research has found that at least one-third of ADEs are repeat events that occur when an ADE is documented at the hospital, but not shared with the prescriber or pharmacies, resulting in a preventable, repeat ADE.
“The implementation of this software into clinical care here in B.C. represents a tremendous step forward, helping to improve communication and ultimately reduce adverse drug events for patients.”
Dr. Corinne Hohl
“It takes very little time to document an adverse drug event,” says Dr. Balka. “As a result of this software, the number of documented adverse drug events has gone up. You can’t prevent them if you’re not documenting them.”
ActionADE is compatible with multiple health authorities’ myriad software systems and databases, and integrated with PharmaNet, the network that connects all B.C. pharmacies to a central data system and includes information about all dispensed prescriptions.
In addition to the software’s uptake in hospitals, two pharmacy software providers with significant market share in BC have altered their software to display ADE information they receive through PharmaNet, and a third system is expected to follow shortly.
A randomized control trial was recently launched by the researchers to assess improved health outcomes and associated cost savings resulting from prevention of repeat ADEs.
Funding from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research, Vancouver Coastal Health and BC’s Ministry of Health has supported the research.