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

Green CA, Perrin NA, Hazlehurst B, Janoff SL, DeVeaugh-Geiss A, Carrell DS, Grijalva CG, Liang C, Enger CL, Coplan PM. Identifying and classifying opioid-related overdoses: a validation study. Pharmacoepidemiol Drug Saf. 2019 Apr 24. doi: 10.1002/pds.4772. [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed

Salz T, Lavery JA, Lipitz-Snyderman AN, Boudreau DM, Moryl N, Gillespie EF, Korenstein D. Trends in opioid use among older survivors of colorectal, lung, and breast cancers. J Clin Oncol. 2019 Feb 28:JCO1800938. doi: 10.1200/JCO.18.00938. [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed

Pocobelli G, Yu O, Ziebell RA, Aiello Bowles EJ, Fujii MM, Sterrett AT, Boggs JM, Chen L, Boudreau DM, Ritzwoller DP, Hubbard RA, Chubak J. Use of antidepressants after colon cancer diagnosis and risk of recurrence. Psycho-oncology. 2019 Jan 31. doi: 10.1002/pon.5015. [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed

Kline-Simon AH, Stumbo SP, Campbell CI, Binswanger IA, Weisner C, Haller IV, Hechter RC, Ahmedani BK, Lapham GT, Loree AM, Sterling SA, Yarborough BJH. Patient characteristics associated with treatment initiation and engagement among individuals diagnosed with alcohol and other drug use disorders in emergency department and primary care settings. Subst Abus. 2019;40(3):278-284. doi: 10.1080/08897077.2018.1547812. Epub 2019 Jan 31. PubMed

Masters ET, Ramaprasan A, Mardekian J, Palmer RE, Gross DE, Cronkite D, Von Korff M, Carrell DS. Natural language processing-identified problem opioid use and its associated health care costs. J Pain Palliat Care Pharmacother. 2019 Jan 31:1-10. doi: 10.1080/15360288.2018.1488794. [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