Medication Use & Patient Safety

“We can dramatically improve health care by making sure people get the right medicines at appropriate doses.”

Denise M. Boudreau, RPh, PhD
Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute Senior Investigator

Research overview

Americans are using more prescription drugs than ever. You may worry about side effects, drug interactions, and costs, especially if you use multiple medications. Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute (KPWHRI) scientists are studying the beneficial and harmful effects of medications in real-world settings such as Kaiser Permanente Washington. And they are working on ways to manage and monitor drug use better.

“We can dramatically improve health care by making sure people get the right medicines at appropriate doses,” said Denise M. Boudreau, RPh, PhD, KPWHRI senior investigator. “The Institute contributes to this effort by participating in national initiatives to monitor medication safety. At the personal level, we’re providing information to doctors and patients for weighing 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 (CDC), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), the Group Health Foundation, and other sources. Projects include:

  • Developing and evaluating a primary care program for safe use of prescription opioids commonly used for pain, such as Oxycontin and Vicodin;
  • Studying the safety of cardiovascular medications, including in older adults;
  • Proactive monitoring of medical products through the FDA Sentinel Initiative;
  • Exploring how genetics might personalize treatments;
  • Studying medication safety during pregnancy;
  • Investigating how medications affect risk of cognitive decline and dementia in late life; and
  • Monitoring vaccine safety and effectiveness.

“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,” said Associate Investigator Sascha Dublin, MD, PhD.

Recent publications on Medication Use & Patient Safety

Gray SL, Anderson ML, Hanlon JT, Dublin S, Walker RL, Hubbard RA, Yu O, Montine TJ, Crane PK, Sonne JA, Keene CD, Larson EB. Exposure to strong anticholinergic medications and dementia-related neuropathology in a community-based autopsy cohort. J Alzheimers Dis. 2018 Jul 21. pii: JAD171174. doi: 10.3233/JAD-171174. [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed

Casillas A, Moreno G, Grotts J, Tseng CH, Morales LS. A digital language divide? the relationship between internet medication refills and medication adherence among limited English proficient (LEP) patients. J Racial Ethn Health Disparities. 2018 Mar 29. pii: 10.1007/s40615-018-0487-9. doi: 10.1007/s40615-018-0487-9. [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed

Dublin S, Von Korff M. Prescription Opioids and Infection Risk: Research and Caution Needed. Ann Intern Med. 2018;168(6):444-445. doi: 10.7326/M18-0001. Epub 2018 Feb 13. PubMed

Martin D, Gagne JJ, Gruber S, Izem R, Nelson JC, Nguyen MD, Ouellet-Hellstrom R, Schneeweiss S, Toh S, Walker AM. Sequential surveillance for drug safety in a regulatory environment. Pharmacoepidemiol Drug Saf. 2018 Mar 5. doi: 10.1002/pds.4407. [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed

Thakral M, Walker RL, Saunders K, Shortreed SM, Dublin S, Parchman M, Hansen RN, Ludman E, Sherman KJ, Von Korff M. Impact of opioid dose reduction initiatives on chronic opioid therapy patients at higher risk for opioid-related adverse outcomes. Pain Med. 2017 Dec 6. doi: 10.1093/pm/pnx293. [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed

Researchers in Medication Use & Patient Safety

Jennifer C. Nelson, PhD

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

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Denise M. Boudreau, PhD

Senior Investigator
206-287-2067
Denise.M.Boudreau@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Andrea J. Cook, PhD

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

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Sascha Dublin, MD, PhD

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

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Michael L. Jackson, PhD, MPH

Associate Investigator
206-287-2220
Michael.L.Jackson@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Andrea Z. LaCroix, PhD

Senior Investigator, KPWHRI; Professor and Chief of Epidemiology, Department of Family Medicine and Public Health, University of California, San Diego
858-822-1073
Alacroix@ucsd.edu

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Eric B. Larson, MD, MPH, MACP

Vice President for Research and Health Care Innovation, Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of Washington; Executive Director & Senior Investigator, KPWHRI
206-287-2988
Eric.B.Larson@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Diana L. Miglioretti, PhD

Senior Investigator, KPWHRI; Dean’s Professor of Biostatistics, University of California, Davis
206-287-4266
dmiglioretti@ucdavis.edu

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Bruce M. Psaty, MD, PhD

Senior Investigator, KPWHRI; Professor of Medicine, Epidemiology, and Health Services, University of Washington
206-221-7775
psaty@uw.edu

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)

Jessica Chubak, PhD, MBHL

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

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Susan M. Shortreed, PhD

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

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Karen Wernli, PhD

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

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Ellen O'Meara, PhD

Research Associate
206-287-2938
Ellen.S.O'Meara@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Onchee Yu, MS

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

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Rod L. Walker, MS

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

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Robert D. Wellman, MS

Biostatistician
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

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

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Lu Chen, PhD, MPH

Assistant Investigator
206-287-2024
Lu.Chen@kp.org

Laura Harrington, PhD, MPH

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