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Patient safety

McGill, CHUM acquire drug software system

MONTREAL – Montreal’s two big teaching hospitals are preparing to install a new medication management system that’s expected to enhance patient safety. The hospitals are the McGill University Health Centre and the Centre hospitalier de l’Université de Montréal, both of which are multi-site organizations.

The software system, Rx Vigilance, contains a database of thousands of drugs and will alert doctors when possible adverse drug interactions are detected.

Developed by Vigilance Santé, of Quebec City, the software also takes the patient record into account, and screens for such factors as age, disease, dosing and possible duplication of medications with a patient’s existing drug regimen.

“It’ll save people,” said Jeffrey Barkun, chief of technological transition at the McGill centre. “This will lead to a very significant drop in medication errors.”

A 2006 study found that medication problems accounted for the hospitalization of more than 31 percent of elderly Montrealers. Errors involving heart medications were among the most frequently blamed for hospitalizations.

Lead researcher Isabelle Payot warned that “it’s urgent that prevention strategies be established, since half of the hospitalizations could have been avoided.”

Each year, doctors fill out hundreds of thousands of prescriptions at the MUHC and the Centre hospitalier de l’Université de Montréal.

“Until now, physicians did not have a choice when it came to looking up (drug) contra-indications or interactions,” explained Luc Valiquette, chairperson of the clinical information system committee at the CHUM.

“They either had to consult product monographs online or reference books.” “ From now on, they will have access to a state-of-the-art care management tool that is continually updated.”

The Rx Vigilance software is capable of alerting physicians to errors that are often difficult to detect. For example, if a patient with kidney problems appears at the hospital complaining of an infection, the doctor may ordinarily prescribe an antibiotic. However, for that patient, the software will warn that the chosen dosage is actually toxic, and that a smaller dosage is required.

When the new software is phased in next spring, it will also produce electronic prescriptions, resulting in clearer and more readily understandable scripts for both patients and pharmacists.

About Vigilance Santé
Rx Vigilance was developed by Vigilance Santé, a Quebec-based company founded in 1991. Vigilance Santé founder and President Raymond Chevalier, who also happens to be a pharmacist, developed this tool in an effort to simplify operations in his pharmacy. The premise behind Rx Vigilance is that as the number of medications continues to grow, the work of health care professionals is becoming increasingly demanding and complex and, as such, they must have access to high performance computer-based tools that are adapted to their daily practice. Content is entirely Canadian and therefore takes Health Canada notices into consideration. Today, Rx Vigilance is used in more than 1500 private pharmacies across Canada and by hospital pharmacists in some 175 health care facilities.

About the CHUM and the MUHC
World-renowned hospital centres: with more than 20,000 employees and over 2 million patient visits per year, the CHUM and the MUHC offer specialized and ultra-specialized care to clients both regionally and supra-regionally. The mission of the CHUM and the MUHC includes care, research, teaching, the assessment of technologies and modes of intervention in health and, at the CHUM, the promotion of health.