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Summary

Aim : To investigate the effectiveness of a computer monitoring system that detects adverse drug reactions (ADRs) by laboratory signals in gastroenterology.

Methods : A prospective, 6-month, pharmacoepidemiological survey was carried out on a gastroenterological ward at the University Hospital Erlangen-Nuremberg. Two methods were used to identify ADRs. (i) All charts were reviewed daily by physicians and clinical pharmacists. (ii) A computer monitoring system generated a daily list of automatic laboratory signals and alerts of ADRs, including patient data and dates of events.

Results : One hundred and nine ADRs were detected in 474 admissions (377 patients). The computer monitoring system generated 4454 automatic laboratory signals from 39 819 laboratory parameters tested, and issued 2328 alerts, 914 (39%) of which were associated with ADRs; 574 (25%) were associated with ADR-positive admissions. Of all the alerts generated, signals of hepatotoxicity (1255), followed by coagulation disorders (407) and haematological toxicity (207), were prevalent. Correspondingly, the prevailing ADRs were concerned with the metabolic and hepato-gastrointestinal system (61). The sensitivity was 91%: 69 of 76 ADR-positive patients were indicated by an alert. The specificity of alerts was increased from 23% to 76% after implementation of an automatic laboratory signal trend monitoring algorithm.

Conclusion : This study shows that a computer monitoring system is a useful tool for the systematic and automated detection of ADRs in gastroenterological patients.