Medication Use & Patient Safety

“Our work gives patients and providers evidence about the outcomes of medication use — both harmful and beneficial — to help them make informed personal decisions about prescription drug use.”

Sascha Dublin, MD, PhD
Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute Senior Investigator
Physician, Washington Permanente Medical Group, Internal Medicine

Research overview

Americans are using more prescription drugs than ever. Consequently, they’re coping with more side effects, drug interactions, and costs, especially if they’re using multiple medications. Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute (KPWHRI) scientists are on the forefront of answering questions about these concerns. We’re studying the beneficial and harmful effects of medications in real-world settings, and innovating better ways to manage and monitor drug use.

The institute contributes to national initiatives to monitor medication safety as well as providing information to help doctors and patients weigh the risks and benefits of various prescription drugs.

Funders of KPWHRI medication use and patient safety research include the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the National Institutes of Health, the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute, and other sources. A few projects include:

  • Studying whether commonly used medications, including oral contraceptives, are associated with the risk of developing COVID-19 infection or severe disease
  • Exploring patient and clinical risk factors for opioid misuse, abuse, and addiction
  • Evaluating an intervention for patients taking long-term high-dose opioids to successfully taper their use without negatively impacting pain management and quality of life
  • Proactive monitoring of medical products through the FDA Sentinel Initiative
  • Studying medication safety for pregnant people and older adults
  • Monitoring vaccine safety and effectiveness
  • Investigating how medications affect risk of cognitive decline and dementia in late life
  • Reaching out to inform patients and providers about the risks of, and alternatives to, commonly used medications that may contribute to falls, including over-the-counter antihistamines

Recent publications on Medication Use & Patient Safety

Gold LS, Marcum ZA, Meier EN, Turner JA, James KT, Kallmes DF, Leutmer PH, Griffith B, Sherman KJ, Friedly JL, Suri P, Deyo RA, Johnson SK, Avins AL, Heagerty PJ, Jarvik JG. Patient, provider, and clinic characteristics associated with opioid and non-opioid pain medication prescriptions for patients receiving low back imaging in primary care. J Am Board Fam Med. 2021 Sep-Oct;34(5):950-963. doi: 10.3122/jabfm.2021.05.210033. PubMed

Marcum ZA, Gold LS, James KT, Meier EN, Turner JA, Kallmes DF, Cherkin DC, Deyo RA, Sherman KJ, Luetmer PH, Avins AL, Griffith B, Friedly JL, Suri P, Heagerty PJ, Jarvik JG. Effects of including epidemiologic data in lumbar spine imaging reports on prescribing non-opioid medications for pain. J Gen Intern Med. 2021 Aug;36(8):2237-2243. doi: 10.1007/s11606-021-06627-6. Epub 2021 Feb 8. PubMed

Pocobelli G, Dublin S, Bobb JF, Albertson-Junkans L, Andrade S, Cheetham TC, Salgado G, Griffin MR, Raebel MA, Smith D, Li DK, Pawloski PA, Toh S, Taylor L, Hua W, Horn P, Trinidad JP, Boudreau DM. Prevalence of prescription opioid use during pregnancy in eight US health plans during 2001-2014. Pharmacoepidemiol Drug Saf. 2021 Jun 24. doi: 10.1002/pds.5312. [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed

Penfold RB, Hilt RJ, Schwartz N, Thompson EE, Robb AS, Correll CU, Newton D, Rogalski K, Earls MF, Kowatch RA, Beck A, Yarborough BJ, Crystal S, Kelleher KJ. Development of a symptom-focused model to guide the prescribing of antipsychotics in children and adolescents: results of the first phase of the Safer and Targeted Use of Antipsychotics (SUAY) clinical trial. J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2021 May 4:S0890-8567(21)00276-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jaac.2021.04.010. Online ahead of print.

Bender M, Williams M, Cruz MF, Rubinson C. A study protocol to evaluate the implementation and effectiveness of the clinical nurse leader care model in improving quality and safety outcomes. Nurs Open. 2021 May 3. doi: 10.1002/nop2.910. Online ahead of print. PubMed

Researchers in Medication Use & Patient Safety

Sascha Dublin, MD, PhD

Senior Investigator
206-287-2870
Sascha.Dublin@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Jessica Chubak, PhD, MBHL

Senior Investigator
206-287-2556
Jessica.Chubak@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Andrea J. Cook, PhD

Senior Investigator
206-287-4257
Andrea.J.Cook@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Rita Mangione-Smith, MD, MPH

Vice President for Research and Health Care Innovation, Kaiser Permanente Washington; Executive Director and Senior Investigator, Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute
206-287-2988
Rita.M.Mangione-Smith@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Eric B. Larson, MD, MPH, MACP

Senior Investigator and former Executive Director, Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute; Former Vice President for Research and Health Care Innovation, Kaiser Permanente Washington
206-287-2988
Eric.B.Larson@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Jennifer C. Nelson, PhD

Director of Biostatistics; Senior Investigator
206-287-2004
Jen.Nelson@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

David E. Arterburn, MD, MPH

Senior Investigator, KPWHRI; Physician, Washington Permanente Medical Group, Internal Medicine
206-287-4610
David.E.Arterburn@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Susan M. Shortreed, PhD

Senior Investigator
206-287-2088
Susan.M.Shortreed@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Lisa A. Jackson, MD, MPH

Senior Investigator
Lisa.A.Jackson@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Karen Wernli, PhD

Associate Investigator
206-287-2934
Karen.J.Wernli@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Onchee Yu, MS

Biostatistician III
206-287-2389
Onchee.Yu@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Rod L. Walker, MS

Biostatistician III
206-287-2895
Rod.L.Walker@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Robert D. Wellman, MS

Biostatistician III
206-287-2557
Robert.D.Wellman@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Gaia Pocobelli, PhD

Research Associate
206-287-2914
Gaia.S.Pocobelli@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

David S. Carrell, PhD

Associate Investigator
206-287-2705
David.S.Carrell@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Laura Harrington, PhD, MPH

Assistant Investigator
206-287-2066
Laura.B.Harrington@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Jennifer F. Bobb, PhD

Associate Investigator
206-287-2190
Jennifer.F.Bobb@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Weiwei Zhu, MS

Biostatistician III
206-442-5215
Weiwei.Zhu@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Paige D. Wartko, PhD, MPH

Research Associate
206-442-5230
Paige.D.Wartko@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Maricela Cruz, PhD

Assistant Investigator
206-287-2878
Maricela.F.Cruz@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Brian D. Williamson, PhD

Assistant Investigator
206-287-2024
Brian.D.Williamson@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Affiliate researchers

Susan Heckbert, MD, PhD
University of Washington (UW) Department of Epidemiology; UW Cardiovascular Health Research Unit

David Siscovick, MD, MPH
UW Department of Medicine; UW Department of Epidemiology; UW Cardiovascular Health Research Unit

Leslie Spangler, PhD
Amgen