Assessing the accuracy of a computerized decision support system for digoxin dosing in primary care: An observational study
Kroese WLG., Avery AJ., Savelyich BSP., Brown NS., Schers H., Howard R., Hippisley-Cox J., Horsfield P.
Background: This study was carried out as part of a European Union funded project (PharmDIS-e+), to develop and evaluate software aimed at assisting physicians with drug dosing. A drug that causes particular problems with drug dosing in primary care is digoxin because of its narrow therapeutic range and low therapeutic index. Objectives: To determine (i) accuracy of the PharmDIS-e+ software for predicting serum digoxin levels in patients who are taking this drug regularly; (ii) whether there are statistically significant differences between predicted digoxin levels and those measured by a laboratory and (iii) whether there are differences between doses prescribed by general practitioners and those suggested by the program. Methods: We needed 45 patients to have 95% Power to reject the null hypothesis that the mean serum digoxin concentration was within 10% of the mean predicted digoxin concentration. Patients were recruited from two general practices and had been taking digoxin for at least 4 months. Exclusion criteria were dementia, low adherence to digoxin and use of other medications known to interact to a clinically important extent with digoxin. Results: Forty-five patients were recruited. There was a correlation of 0·65 between measured and predicted digoxin concentrations (P < 0·001). The mean difference was 0·12 μg/L (SD 0·26; 95% CI 0·04, 0·19, P = 0·005). Forty-seven per cent of the patients were prescribed the same dose as recommended by the software, 44% were prescribed a higher dose and 9% a lower dose than recommended. Conclusion: PharmDIS-e+ software was able to predict serum digoxin levels with acceptable accuracy in most patients. © 2005 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.