Pharmacy, medical, and nurse practitioner students need more education on drug-drug interactions

Research Activities, December 2011, No. 376

Many adverse events, hospitalizations, and even deaths are attributed to drug-drug interactions (DDIs) that could have been avoided. It is the task of the pharmacist and the prescriber to identify and prevent DDIs. In a test of 15 drug pairs, most of which have known interactions, pharmacy students scored significantly better than medical and nurse practitioner students on their ability both to recognize DDIs and to select appropriate management strategies. This result may be because pharmacy school curriculum primarily focuses on drugs and mechanisms of action and there is more time spent on DDI education, note the study authors.

Although most clinicians have access to drug information software, studies have demonstrated that DDI screening software systems are not perfect. For example, these programs can overwhelm the user by recognizing many drug interaction alerts of moderate to minor potential severity. This makes it difficult to identify which ones are clinically important interactions. Because of such shortcomings, it is important to prepare prescribers and pharmacists to identify and manage potential DDIs independently from these resources, assert the authors. They evaluated and compared the DDI knowledge of 64 pharmacy, 72 medical, and 29 nurse practitioner students beginning clinical practice. They concluded that there is much room for improvement in all groups, since they all fell short of being able to correctly identify all interactions. The study was supported by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (HS17001).

See "Medical, nursing, and pharmacy students' ability to recognize potential drug-drug interactions: A comparison of healthcare professional students," by Terri L. Warholak, Ph.D., Lisa E. Hines, Pharm.D., Mi Chi Song, Pharm.D., and others in the Journal of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners 23, pp. 216-223, 2011.

Current as of December 2011
Internet Citation: Pharmacy, medical, and nurse practitioner students need more education on drug-drug interactions: Research Activities, December 2011, No. 376. December 2011. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.