A survey to determine the extent of computerization in key areas of hospitals, the information being collected in the databases, and the capabilities of the computer systems for performing adverse drug event monitoring and drug-use evaluations was conducted. The questionnaire was distributed to clinical pharmacists in the 500 hospitals composing the Drug Surveillance Network. In the majority of the 166 responding hospitals (> 85%), the pharmacy department, clinical chemistry and hematology laboratories, patient admissions, and microbiology laboratory were computerized for data acquisition and management. The medical records and purchasing departments were computerized in a smaller proportion of hospitals (75% and 74%, respectively). In the majority of hospitals with a computerized pharmacy department (> 78%), there was ready access to computer databases in other departments, but simultaneous querying of multiple databases was possible in only 30%. Patients could be identified according to diagnosis in 82% of the hospitals and according to medication received in 83%. More than 85% of responding hospitals had implemented spontaneous reporting systems for the identification of adverse drug events. Computers are widely used in hospitals participating in the Drug Surveillance Network, but a substantial effort is necessary to make these resources more useful and to standardize processes so that data may be pooled across institutions to deal with important public health concerns.
By Thaddeus H Grasela, Cynthia Walawander, Kennedy DL, Jolson HM,