New collaborative grant to help reduce risk of medication errors

By Steven BartolottaFulda Web

A collaborative effort has been launched by several health care organizations to help address the nation’s burgeoning crisis of preventable medication-related harm.

Each year, the nation’s hospitals record more than 700,000 emergency room visits and 100,000 hospitalizations because of the unsafe use of medications. The problem is particularly acute among patients 65 and older.

A new four-year, $2.5 million federal grant has been awarded to the University of Texas at Arlington’s College of Nursing and Health Innovation, UNT Health Science Center, Johns Hopkins University and the JPS Health Network to confront the problem.

The grant is from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality to develop interventions that will ultimately reduce unsafe use of medication. UTA will serve as the lead institution for the grant, with Dr. Yan Xiao from the College of Nursing as the principle investigator.

The team from UNTHSC includes Kimberly Fulda, DrPH; Annesha White, PharmD, MS, PhD; and Anna Espinoza, MD.

The project will be multi-faceted as the group works to reduce the number of medication errors, improve communication between healthcare providers and patients and develop a system to improve safety.

Investigators working on the grant will have access to primary care outpatient clinics through NorTex, a regional practice-based network.

Dr. Fulda, an Associate Professor in the Department of Family Medicine in TCOM and Director of NorTex, sees this program as an opportunity to help improve communication with patients and reduce the risk of medical errors.

“I look forward to working with such an amazing team to address this important issue using an interdisciplinary approach,” Dr. Fulda said. “We will engage healthcare providers, patients, community pharmacists and other leading experts to improve communication and medication safety in the primary care outpatient setting.”

Dr. White, Associate Dean for Assessment and Accreditation at the UNT System College of Pharmacy, will collaborate with clinical pharmacists to develop the best strategies to combat this rising problem.

“This opportunity to raise patient awareness of medication safety may help patients to achieve better health outcomes by decreasing errors in daily medication routines such as forgetting to take meds or confusing one pill with another,” Dr. White said. “Addressing patient responses to medications, such as side effects and symptoms, will also be helpful as all medications used for treating any type of health condition can cause side effects.”

The grant began in September and the ultimate goal of the program is to develop a strategy to implement the best practices at two clinics in the region, one at JPS and the other at NorTex.

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