Public Release: 

Computer system improves pain therapy for cancer patients

Successful test of electronic decision support on applying international therapy guidelines; Clinical pharmacologists from Heidelberg publish results in 'Pain'

Heidelberg University Hospital

Pain therapy for cancer patients - whether inpatient or outpatient - is often inadequate. At Heidelberg University Hospital, the use of an innovative electronic system - combined with guidance by an experienced clinical pharmacist - has been successfully tested. The treatment of the patients showed little variance from international guidelines on pain therapy. In addition, patients reported having less pain. The results of the study have been published in the journal Pain.

The electronic pain relief guide AiDPainCare is an additional instrument of the electronic pharmaceutical guide AiDKlinik, which guides physicians safely through the current pharmaceutical market in Germany with over 64,000 products and successfully helps avoid false dosages, side effects, dangerous drug interaction, and duplications in prescriptions. The medication prescribed by the physician can be transferred from AiDKlinik directly to a prescription or medical report. The system is currently in use in 10 hospitals in Germany and can also be subscribed to by physicians in private practice (www.doctors-aid.de).

New consulting module for the electronic pharmaceutical guide AiDKlinik

AiDKlinik was developed in 2003 by the Department of Internal Medicine VI, Clinical Pharmacology and Pharmacoepidemiology, at Heidelberg University Hospital in conjunction with the hospital pharmacy. The Ministry of Education and Research funded development. Third party funding from the Ferdinand Heinrich Mörsel Foundation was acquired especially for the development of AiDPainCare.

"The safety of drug therapy from prescribing to administering is a central aspect of our work," explains Professor Walter E. Haefeli, Medical Director, Department of Internal Medicine VI, Clinical Pharmacology and Pharmacoepidemiology. Their cooperation unit Clinical Pharmacy (Director: Dr. Thilo Bertsche), working with the Heidelberg Pain Center under the direction of Professor Hubert J. Bardenheuer, has processed the internationally established treatment guidelines in electronic form. The system was tested and successfully implemented for pain therapy of cancer patients on wards at Heidelberg University Hospital Department of Radio-oncology and Radiation Therapy (Medical Director: Professor Jürgen Debus).

Co-analgesics are not prescribed often enough

In a pilot phase of the study, the researchers determined that in pain treatment begun outside the hospital, underdosing with morphine-based analgesics was common and so-called co-analgesics, e.g. antidepressants or cortisone products, were not used sufficiently. "Co-analgesics in particular can frequently improve pain therapy in patients, but are still being prescribed too rarely," said Bertsche.

The use of AiDPainCare improved the competent prescribing of such co-analgesics and of opioid (opiate-based) pain medication to treat pain peaks and breakthrough pain. In this area especially, AiDPainCare was used to support physician's therapy for individual patients. In addition, the module provides quick access to general principles on treatment with opioids and legal information. This should reduce unfounded fears about prescribing a narcotic. Flyers designed especially for patients can also be printed.

Introduction at Heidelberg University Hospital shortly

After successful testing, AiDPainCare will be available on all computers at Heidelberg University Hospital shortly. This should make pain therapy in Heidelberg more effective and better tolerated and reduce patients' fears of pain in the hospital. Moreover, it is planned to offer the module to external users of AiDKlinik.

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More Information on the Internet:
www.aidklinik.de
www.dosing-gmbh.de
www.doctors-aid.de
www.klinikum.uni-heidelberg.de/Klinische-Pharmakologie-und-Pharmakoepidemiologie-.106667.0.html
www.klinikum.uni-heidelberg.de/Schm-Palliativmedizin.692.0.html

Source:

T Bertsche, V Askoxylakis, G Habl, F Laidig, J Kaltschmidt, SPW Schmitt, H Ghaderi, A Zabel-du Bois, S Milker-Zabel, J Debus, HJ Bardenheuer, WE Haefeli. Multidisciplinary pain management based on computerized decision support in cancer pain patients. Pain 2009.

Contact person:
Dr. Thilo Bertsche
Director of the Cooperation Unit Clinical Pharmacy
Im Neuenheimer Feld 410
69120 Heidelberg
phone: +49 6221 / 56 87 40
fax: +49 6221 / 56 46 42
e-mail: thilo.bertsche@med.uni-heidelberg.de

Heidelberg University Hospital and Medical Faculty:

Internationally recognized patient care, research, and teaching Heidelberg University Hospital is one of the largest and most prestigious medical centers in Germany. The Medical Faculty of Heidelberg University belongs to the internationally most renowned biomedical research institutions in Europe. Both institutions have the common goal of developing new therapies and implementing them rapidly for patients. With about 7,000 employees, training and qualification is an important issue. Every year, around 500,000 patients are treated on an inpatient or outpatient basis in more than 40 clinics and departments with 1,600 beds. Currently, about 3,100 future physicians are studying in Heidelberg; the reform Heidelberg Curriculum Medicinale (HeiCuMed) is one of the top medical training programs in Germany.

Requests by journalists:
Dr. Annette Tuffs
Head of Public Relations and Press Department
University Hospital of Heidelberg and
Medical Faculty of Heidelberg
Im Neuenheimer Feld 672
D-69120 Heidelberg
Germany
phone: +49 6221 / 56 45 36
fax: +49 6221 / 56 45 44
e-mail: annette.tuffs@med.uni-heidelberg.de

Selected english press releases online:
http://www.klinikum.uni-heidelberg.de/presse

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