Managing drug interactions in hospitalized patients is important and challenging. The objective of the study was to compare two methods for identification of drug interactions (DDIs)--computerized screening and prospective bedside recording--with regard to capability of identifying DDIs.
Patient characteristics were recorded for patients admitted to five hospitals. By bedside evaluation drug-related problems, including DDIs, were prospectively recorded by pharmacists and discussed in multidisciplinary teams. A computer screening programme was used to identify DDIs retrospectively--dividing DDIs into four classes: A, avoid; B, avoid/take precautions; C, take precautions; D, no action needed.
Among 827 patients, computer screening identified DDIs in 544 patients (66%); 351 had DDIs introduced in hospital. The 1513 computer-identified DDIs had the following distribution: type A 78; type B 915; type C 38; type D 482. By bedside evaluation, 99 DDIs were identified in 73 patients (9%). The proportions of computer recorded DDIs which were also identified at the bedside were: 5%, 8%, 8%, 2% DDIs of types A, B, C and D respectively. In 10 patients, DDIs not registered by computer screening were identified by bedside evaluation. The drugs most frequently involved in DDIs, identified by computerized screening were acetylsalicylic acid, warfarin, furosemide and digitoxin compared with warfarin, simvastatin, theophylline and carbamazepine, by bedside evaluation.
Despite an active prospective bedside search for DDIs, this approach identified less than one in 10 of the DDIs recorded by computer screening, including those regarded as hazardous. However, computer screening overestimates considerably when the objective is to identify clinically relevant DDIs.