College of Pharmacy Students Make High-Risk Medication Clinical Decision Support Available to Local Hospital

Group Picture of Student Team

Belmont University College of Pharmacy Healthcare Informatics students are partnering with Nashville General Hospital at Meharry to develop a Clinical Decision Support (CDS) tool which supports the safe use of medications in the hospital environment.

Third-year pharmacy students Joshua Page, Julie Nguyen, Grant Harder, Raven McKinnie and Kenyatta Cleark created a database of maximum and minimum dose ranges for high-risk drugs most commonly used by hospital formularies. This information can be used in many ways in the Electronic Health Record (EHR) to help avoid potentially harmful medication errors.

The work was closely supervised by Associate Professor Dr. Anthony Blash, PharmD., CPHIMS, with each medication parameter undergoing multiple checks for safety and accuracy. “Any clinical decision support should be independently verified and approved by hospital pharmacist teams before including in the EHR, but the creation of this type of CDS is a big step towards increased patient safety,” Blash said.

“Implementation of standardized Dose Range Checking parameters within healthcare system’s EHR has the potential to drastically improve patient safety by reducing the rate of medical dosing errors,” said Harder.

Clinical decision support tools are designed to transform the most current medical research into recommendations that clinicians can use to ensure that their patients receive the best quality care. Many large hospitals and clinics have access to full-time healthcare informatics staff who develop and manage this type of tool for their providers. Smaller and more rural facilities may not have resources available to create, verify and implement this custom CDS in their electronic health record.

Blash said the clinical decision support the team is able to provide at this scale and level of expertise is much sought after in the healthcare community. “We estimate that the project at Nashville General Hospital will provide between 250 – 1500 additional patient safety protections daily,” he said. “We were excited to be able to partner with Nashville General Hospital at Meharry and if there is an opportunity to help another hospital in the future, we would consider that as well.”

The Belmont University College of Pharmacy informatics program provides training that is specialized, and students choosing to pursue the informatics concentration receive both didactic and hands-on training on healthcare technology and its use in pharmacy practice.

Nguyen said this is a real project doing real work for healthcare-related institutions. “This informatics class hands us opportunities we wouldn’t be able to find in a regular classroom. It really empowers us to make a difference even before we graduate and prepares us for the projects we’ll be doing in practice,” she said.

All five students are in their third year and will be looking for continued training in pharmacy residencies or fellowships upon graduation in May 2021.

“We’re very proud of the accomplishments of the students,” Blash said. “This project aligns with one of Belmont’s guiding principles of cherishing the privilege of service to others and the importance of work.”