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Educating MDs significantly curbs medication errors for seniors

A variety of strategies have been proposed in the effort to curb medication error rates in clinics and hospitals across the United States. Now a new study claims to have a solution that will make a big dent in medical harm rates: education interventions for physicians.

The three-year study concluded that the use of education interventions with licensed doctors could severely reduce the number of instances where a doctor-prescribed medication poses more negative health risks than it does potential health benefits. The reduction rate in those cases could be as high as 31 percent.

In fact, using such awareness interventions regarding drugs issued to seniors could curb those rates by 9.8 percent on its own.

One interesting aspect of the study was that it was conducted in Italy, where universal health care and a uniform health care system made such a study much easier to conduct.

Researchers have broken down education interventions into a three-step process. First, physicians need to be provided a list of potentially harmful medications that should be avoided in favor of safer alternatives. Doctors should also be required to review incident data concerning the use of inappropriate medications.

Doctors then need to be served with educational sessions that incorporate peer-to-peer interactions and case study reviews to communicate the scientific basis for labeling certain medications as inappropriate.

If such a system can be implemented successfully, it could go a long way toward curbing the $4.2 billion in annual costs suffered due to outpatient medication errors.

Source: Med City News, "Study offers some clues on how to reduce $4.2 billion medication error dilemma," Stephanie Baum, Jan. 22, 2013

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