Quality of care measures are increasingly important to health plans, purchasers, physicians, and patients. Appropriate measures can be used to assess quality and evaluate improvement and are necessary components of pay-for-performance programs. Despite the broad scope of activity in the development of quality measures, migraine headache has received little attention. Given the enormous costs associated with migraine, especially in terms of lost productivity and preventable health care utilization, health plans could gain from a structured approach to measuring the quality of migraine care their beneficiaries receive. A potential migraine quality measurement set was developed through a review of migraine care literature and guidelines, interviews with leaders in migraine care, health care purchasing, and managed care, and the assembly of an advisory board. The board discussed candidate measures and established consensus on a testable measurement set. Twenty measures were developed, focused primarily on diagnosis and utilization. Areas of utilization include physician visits, emergency department visits, hospitalizations, and imaging. Use of both acute and preventive medications is included. More complex aspects of migraine care are also addressed, including triptan overuse, the relationship between acute and preventive medications, and follow-up after emergency department visits. The measures are currently being tested in health plans to assess their feasibility and value. A compelling case can be made for the development of migraine-specific quality measures for health plans. This effort to develop and test a starter set of measures should lead to new and innovative efforts to assess and improve quality of care for migraineurs.
PURPOSE: Drug utilization studies in pregnant women are crucial to inform pharmacovigilance efforts in human teratogenicity. The purpose of this study was to estimate the prevalence of prescription drug use among pregnant women in Regione Emilia-Romagna (RER), Italy.
METHODS: We conducted a retrospective prevalence study using data from the RER health care database. Outpatient prescription drug data were reconciled for RER residents who delivered a baby in a hospital between January 1, 2004 and December 31, 2004. Drug data were stratified by trimester of use, pregnancy risk categorization, and anatomical classification.
RESULTS: Among the 33,343 deliveries identified in 2004, 70% of women were exposed to at least one prescription medication during pregnancy and 48% were exposed to at least one prescription medication after excluding vitamin and mineral products. Many of the most commonly used medications were anti-infectives, such as amoxicillin, fosfomycin, and ampicillin. Nearly 1% of women were exposed to drugs contraindicated (i.e., category X) in pregnancy, including 189 women (0.6%) who received these drugs during the first trimester. Several statin medications were among the most common contraindicated drug exposures.
CONCLUSION: A large proportion of women who gave birth in RER in 2004 were exposed to prescription medications. Approximately 1 in 100 women were exposed to contraindicated drugs. The most commonly identified drug exposures can help focus pharmacoepidemiologic efforts in drug-induced birth defects.
BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVE: Drug-drug interactions (DDIs) are preventable medication errors associated with potentially serious adverse events and death. Several studies have examined the prevalence of potential DDIs among ambulatory patients in various countries. Limited recent data on the prevalence of potential DDIs in Italy are available in the medical literature. The objective of this study was to estimate the prevalence of clinically important potential DDIs among the approximately 4 million residents of Regione Emilia-Romagna (RER), Italy, and to examine possible predictors of potential DDI exposure.
METHODS: A retrospective follow-up study of 2004 outpatient prescription data from RER was conducted. A previously published list of clinically important potential DDIs was refined to include only pairs of drugs in which both drugs were reimbursed by the 2004 Italian National Formulary. A potential DDI was defined as the presence of a minimum 5-day overlap in days supply for drugs in an interacting pair. The 1-year period prevalence of each potential DDI was quantified. A logistic regression analysis was conducted to examine patient characteristics as predictors of potential DDIs.
RESULTS AND DISCUSSION: The list of clinically important potential DDIs included 12 drug pairs that could be captured using the RER database. These 12 potential DDIs occurred 8894 times in the RER population in 2004. The most commonly identified potentially interacting medication pairs were warfarin and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (6824 cases), theophylline/aminophylline and ciprofloxacin/fluvoxamine (930), and warfarin and barbiturates (567). Odds of exposure were highest among those aged 65 years or older, males, and those with more chronic conditions. Odds of exposure increased 1.39 times with each addition of a prescription medication.
CONCLUSION: A substantial number of clinically important potential DDIs were identified, particularly among warfarin users. Awareness of the most prevalent potential DDIs can help practitioners prevent concomitant use of these dangerous medication combinations.