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USP’s National Adverse Drug Event Database Hits One Million Records Milestone

Rockville, Md., September 27, 2005—The United States Pharmacopeia (USP) today announced that MEDMARX, the largest nongovernmental database of medication errors, has received over one million medication error records to date.

MEDMARX is an anonymous, Internet-based program used by hospitals and related institutions nationwide to report, track and analyze medication errors. Since the program’s inception in 1998, more than 900 healthcare facilities have contributed data to USP. In September 2004, USP expanded the program to include an adverse drug reaction (ADR) module to collect, analyze, and disseminate information on ADRs to help hospitals reduce morbidity and mortality. The systematic tracking and monitoring of ADRs may minimize the impact that ADRs have on patients and ultimately reduce the cost of care.

Harmful medication errors have long been documented by hospitals. However, the MEDMARX tool standardizes collection, facilitates analysis, and enables risk prevention through access to the central repository of all errors submitted by participants. The database represents the first time such information has been shared for learning purposes.

A historical review of MEDMARX data reveals that approximately 46% of the medication errors reported reached the patient; 98% of the reported errors did not result in harm.

“USP applauds the more than 900 hospitals across the country who have demonstrated their commitment to reducing medication errors and sharing their own experiences with others through participation in this national program,” said Roger L. Williams, MD, executive vice president and chief executive officer. “We also congratulate Congress on the recent passing of the Patient Safety and Quality Improvement Act of 2005, which further enables and encourages medical error reporting, including medication errors.” The recently passed legislation provides protection for medical error data and other patient safety information voluntarily reported to patient safety organizations. The collection, analysis, and dissemination of data that are encouraged in this Act have been undertaken by USP since the inception of MEDMARX in 1998.

USP’s MEDMARX program has made significant contributions to the reduction of medication errors and the improvement of patient care. Through USP’s Safe Medication Use Expert Committee, recommendations have been issued regarding labeling, packaging, nomenclature, and other areas impacted by medication errors. Information, recommendations, and tips to consumers and healthcare professionals have been issued annually and have covered a variety of areas including emergency departments, pediatrics, geriatrics, high-alert medications, and errors associated with computerization.

In 2004, USP’s Center for the Advancement of Patient Safety published Advancing Patient Safety in U.S. Hospitals: Basic Strategies for Success, the first case study book discussing actual hospital medication errors and steps taken to prevent similar mistakes. The MEDMARX 2004 report titled, MEDMARX Data Report: A Chartbook of 2000–2004 Findings from ICU and Radiology, will be issued later this year.

Source: United States Pharmacopeia

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