First DataBank Europe , the provider of point-of-care databases has launched Enhanced Sensitivity Checking as a new feature of its Multilex Drug Data File Multilex DDF).

The new feature offers a more sophisticated way to highlight potential drug – patient sensitivity safety issues to clinicians, a key requirement in reducing medication errors.

Previously, within electronic prescribing and dispensing systems using Multilex DDF, patient sensitivities could only be recorded only against a particular product and not individual active ingredients – which could result in unnecessary warnings.

However, with Enhanced Sensitivity Check individual ingredients or groups of ingredients can now be recorded, enabling safety warnings to be far more specific. This greatly increases the coverage of possible cross-sensitivity reaction data and will warn the professional of potential problems which may not be immediately obvious from the sensitivities recorded on the patients’ medical record.

Hospital pharmacy system supplier JAC  worked closely with First DataBank to develop this new level of safety check and is the first organisation to incorporate it within their pharmacy and electronic prescribing systems.

Graham Moule, marketing manager for JAC said "As more NHS staff are using computer systems to support their clinical work, the role of decision support is becoming more important. Users expect a high degree of sophistication and with the Enhanced Sensitivity Check functionality, comprehensive drug allergy and sensitivity warnings can now be provided to prescribers and pharmacy staff."

The need to implement effective electronic prescribing system to avoid medication errors has been highlighted in both the Department of Health’s report ‘An organisation with a Memory’, and last year’s Audit Commission Report ‘A Spoonful of Sugar’.

An Organisation with Memory found that 10,000 hospital patients each year have serious adverse reactions to medicines and one fifth of clinical negligence litigation stems from hospital medication errors.

The Audit Commission’s 2001 report, conservatively estimated that medication errors alone cost the NHS around £500 million a year just in additional days spent in hospital. Complications arising from medicines treatment are the most common cause of adverse events in hospital patients, with most errors caused by the prescriber not having immediate access to accurate information about either the medicine or the patient, including their allergies.

The new sensitivity checking is available within the latest release of the Multilex Toolkits for First DataBank’s Relational Toolkit customers.