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

Gray SL, Dublin S, Yu O, Walker RL, Anderson ML, Hubbard R, Crane PK, Larson EB. Benzodiazepine use and risk of incident dementia or cognitive decline: prospective population based study. BMJ. 2016 Feb 2;352:i90. doi: 10.1136/bmj.i90. PubMed

Ertefaie A, Shortreed S, Chakraborty B. Q-learning residual analysis: application to the effectiveness of sequences of antipsychotic medications for patients with schizophrenia. Stat Med. 2016 Jan 10. doi: 10.1002/sim.6859. [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed

Wernli KJ, Brenner AT, Rutter C, Inadomi J. Short-term risks associated with general anesthesia during colonoscopy compared to conscious sedation in US adult population. Gastroenterology. Epub 2015.

Von Korff M, Turner JA, Shortreed SM, Saunders KW, Rosenberg D, Thielke S, LeResche LA. Timeliness of care planning upon initiation of chronic opioid therapy for chronic pain. Pain Med. 2016 Mar;17(3):511-520. Epub 2015 Dec 14. PubMed

Hansen C, Andrade SE, Freiman H, Dublin S, Haffenreffer K, Cooper WO, Cheetham TC, Toh S, Li DK, Raebel MA, Kuntz JL, Perrin N, Rosales AG, Carter S, Pawloski PA, Maloney EM, Graham DJ, Sahin L, Scott PE, Yap J, Davis R. Trimethoprim-sulfonamide use during the first trimester of pregnancy and the risk of congenital anomalies. Pharmacoepidemiol Drug Saf. 2015 Nov 24. doi: 10.1002/pds.3919. [Epub 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