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Psychiatr Serv. 2000 Jun;51(6):791-4.

Using a computer database to monitor compliance with pharmacotherapeutic guidelines for schizophrenia.

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Center for Medical Informatics, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT, USA.



The study examined whether prescription data from a computerized database could be used to measure conformance with treatment recommendations of the Schizophrenia Patient Outcomes Research Team (PORT).


Records of an academically affiliated Veterans Affairs medical center were reviewed to identify patients who were hospitalized for schizophrenia and later seen for at least two outpatient visits in the six months after discharge (N=353).


Conformance with only three of the 18 PORT pharmacotherapeutic recommendations could be measured with the available data. In regard to the recommendation to use antipsychotics other than clozapine as first-line treatments in acute episodes, 77 percent of the sample filled a prescription for an antipsychotic during the acute episode. Of these, only 6 percent received an antipsychotic regimen that included clozapine. In regard to the PORT recommendation on dosage during acute symptom episodes, 42 percent of the patients on conventional antipsychotics received dosages below the recommended range, 5 percent were above the range, and 53 percent were within it. In contrast, of the 53 patients who received clozapine or risperidone, 87 percent received prescriptions within the recommended dosage range. As for the recommendation to offer a trial of clozapine to patients who do not respond to adequate trials of two different classes of conventional drugs, 10 percent of patients who were switched from conventional regimens to clozapine were receiving dosages of conventional medications below the recommended range.


Patient prescription data can provide preliminary measures to cost-effectively assess conformance with treatment. However, the approach has several limitations, and complementary analyses would enhance its usefulness.

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