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PSNet: Patient Safety Network
Journal Article

Computerized prescribing alerts and group academic detailing to reduce the use of potentially inappropriate medications in older people.

Simon SR, Smith DH, Feldstein AC, et al. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. 2006;54:963-8.

This study demonstrated that replacing drug-specific alerts with age-specific ones sustained (but did not enhance) previously noted decreases in inappropriate prescribing with drug-specific alerts alone. Investigators conducted a cluster-randomized trial of seven practices that received age-specific alerts in addition to academic detailing with eight practices that received only the alerts. The academic detailing process involved an interactive educational program to assist with alternative and evidence-based medication choices. Findings suggested that clinical decision support can be effective using alert systems, but improvements in tools such as academic detailing are needed, as the process had no benefit in this study. Shifting to age-specific alerts did decrease the alert burden overall to providers. A past review discussed the issue of inappropriate prescribing in the elderly while other studies evaluated its prevalence in outpatient settings and elderly veterans.