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BMC Med Inform Decis Mak. 2009 Jun 12;9:30. doi: 10.1186/1472-6947-9-30.

Substantial reduction of inappropriate tablet splitting with computerised decision support: a prospective intervention study assessing potential benefit and harm.

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Department of Internal Medicine VI, Clinical Pharmacology and Pharmacoepidemiology, University of Heidelberg, 69120 Heidelberg, Germany.



Currently ambulatory patients break one in four tablets before ingestion. Roughly 10% of them are not suitable for splitting because they lack score lines or because enteric or modified release coating is destroyed impairing safety and effectiveness of the medication. We assessed impact and safety of computerised decision support on the inappropriate prescription of split tablets.


We performed a prospective intervention study in a 1680-bed university hospital. Over a 15-week period we evaluated all electronically composed medication regimens and determined the fraction of tablets and capsules that demanded inappropriate splitting. In a subsequent intervention phase of 15 weeks duration for 10553 oral drugs divisibility characteristics were indicated in the system. In addition, an alert was generated and displayed during the prescription process whenever the entered dosage regimen demanded inappropriate splitting (splitting of capsules, unscored tablets, or scored tablets unsuitable for the intended fragmentation).


During the baseline period 12.5% of all drugs required splitting and 2.7% of all drugs (257/9545) required inappropriate splitting. During the intervention period the frequency of inappropriate splitting was significantly reduced (1.4% of all drugs (146/10486); p = 0.0008). In response to half of the alerts (69/136) physicians adjusted the medication regimen. In the other half (67/136) no corrections were made although a switch to more suitable drugs (scored tablets, tablets with lower strength, liquid formulation) was possible in 82% (55/67).


This study revealed that computerised decision support can immediately reduce the frequency of inappropriate splitting without introducing new safety hazards.

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