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Pharmacotherapy. 2006 May;26(5):682-8.

5-year evaluation of electronic medical record flag alerts for patients warranting secondary prevention of coronary heart disease.

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  • 1Department of Pharmacy and Clinical Sciences, University Diagnostic Center, South Carolina College of Pharmacy, Charleston, 29425, USA.



To assess the effect of flag alerts that were placed in electronic medical records on patients' adherence with National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) guidelines for secondary prevention of coronary heart disease. A secondary objective was to identify the proportion of patients who were prescribed lipid-lowering agents and assess the barriers of patients who did not reach low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL) goals 5.6 years after the intervention.


Retrospective analysis of a prospective medical record intervention.


University-based primary care clinic.


Eighty-nine adult patients with atherosclerotic vascular disease.


For each patient identified as needing secondary prevention for coronary heart disease according to NCEP guidelines, flags were inserted into the patient's electronic medical record.


Baseline patient data were collected. After 5.6 years, we performed a retrospective analysis. At that time, 72 patients were evaluated; 17 were lost to follow-up. Fifty-four percent of patients (39 of 72 patients) had reached their LDL goal compared with 25% (16 of 64 patients for whom complete lipid panels had been obtained) at baseline (p=0.001). The proportion of patients prescribed lipid-lowering agents rose from 16% at baseline to 75% at follow-up (p=0.0001). However, 33 patients (46%) were above their LDL goal levels at follow-up. Reasons for failure to reach LDL goal were as follows: drug dosage not titrated (10 patients [30%]), adverse drug reaction (four patients [12%]), planned to adjust therapy in the future (three patients [9%]), high drug cost (two patients [6%]), drug contraindicated (two patients [6%]), and non-compliance (one patient [3%]). In 11 patients (33%), the reason for failure was not addressed in the progress notes. Thus, inadequate drug dosage titration (dosage not titrated, planned to adjust therapy, and reason not addressed [assume no action]) occurred in more than 70% of these patients.


These findings emphasize the need for regular evaluation of patients' lipid panels followed by appropriate therapy titration to reach LDL goals. Further study of factors influencing cholesterol management and methods to improve adherence is needed.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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