July 6 2012
The Institute of Medicine's landmark 1999 report on patient safety, To Err is Human (PDF), estimated that medical errors may be responsible for as many as 98,000 deaths in the United States each year and may cost the health care system up to $29 billion. A substantial number of these errors are medication errors. When prescribed inappropriately, medications can cause serious harm—including drug-drug interactions that can be lethal.
Computerized clinical decision support (CDS) systems have been developed to enhance physician decision-making and to reduce the incidence of avoidable medical errors. Drug-drug interaction warnings are a mainstay of clinical decision support systems, but they give rise to a fundamental problem that has limited much of the utility of those systems to date.