Medication Use & Patient Safety

“Our work gives patients and providers evidence about the outcomes of medication use — both harmful and beneficial — to help them make informed personal decisions about prescription drug use.”

Sascha Dublin, MD, PhD
Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute Senior Investigator
Physician, Washington Permanente Medical Group, Internal Medicine

Research overview

Americans are using more prescription drugs than ever. Consequently, they’re coping with more side effects, drug interactions, and costs, especially if they’re using multiple medications. Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute (KPWHRI) scientists are on the forefront of answering questions about these concerns. We’re studying the beneficial and harmful effects of medications in real-world settings, and innovating better ways to manage and monitor drug use.

The institute contributes to national initiatives to monitor medication safety as well as providing information to help doctors and patients weigh the risks and benefits of various prescription drugs.

Funders of KPWHRI medication use and patient safety research include the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the National Institutes of Health, the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute, and other sources. A few projects include:

  • Studying whether commonly used medications, including oral contraceptives, are associated with the risk of developing COVID-19 infection or severe disease
  • Exploring patient and clinical risk factors for opioid misuse, abuse, and addiction
  • Evaluating an intervention for patients taking long-term high-dose opioids to successfully taper their use without negatively impacting pain management and quality of life
  • Proactive monitoring of medical products through the FDA Sentinel Initiative
  • Studying medication safety for pregnant people and older adults
  • Monitoring vaccine safety and effectiveness
  • Investigating how medications affect risk of cognitive decline and dementia in late life
  • Reaching out to inform patients and providers about the risks of, and alternatives to, commonly used medications that may contribute to falls, including over-the-counter antihistamines

Recent publications on Medication Use & Patient Safety

Acton EK, Hennessy S, Brensinger CM, Bilker WB, Miano TA, Dublin S, Horn JR, Chung S, Wiebe DJ, Willis AW, Leonard CE. Opioid drug-drug-drug interactions and unintentional traumatic injury: screening to detect three-way drug interaction signals. Front Pharmacol. 2022 May 10;13:845485. doi: 10.3389/fphar.2022.845485. eCollection 2022. PubMed

Pham Nguyen TP, Soprano SE, Hennessy S, Brensinger CM, Bilker WB, Miano TA, Acton EK, Horn JR, Chung SP, Dublin S, Oslin DW, Wiebe DJ, Leonard CE. Population-based signals of benzodiazepine drug interactions associated with unintentional traumatic injury. J Psychiatr Res. 2022 May 1;151:299-303. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychires.2022.04.033. PubMed

Dawwas GK, Hennessy S, Brensinger CM, Acton EK, Bilker WB, Chung S, Dublin S, Horn JR, Manis MM, Miano TA, Oslin DW, Pham Nguyen TP, Soprano SE, Wiebe DJ, Leonard CE. Signals of muscle relaxant drug interactions associated with unintentional traumatic injury: a population-based screening study. CNS Drugs. 2022 Apr;36(4):389-400. doi: 10.1007/s40263-022-00909-1. Epub 2022 Mar 6. PubMed

Yeung K, Ulloa E. Incentivizing prescription drug switching to reduce patient and health plan spending: a microsimulation model. Value Health. 2022;25(3):427-434. doi: 10.1016/j.jval.2021.08.012. Epub 2021 Oct 1. PubMed

Klein TA, Graves JM, Panther S. Trazodone prescribing for children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder on Medicaid in Oregon. J Pediatr Pharmacol Ther. 2022;27(2):132-140. doi: 10.5863/1551-6776-27.2.132. Epub 2022 Feb 9. PubMed

Researchers in Medication Use & Patient Safety

Sascha Dublin, MD, PhD

Senior Investigator
206-287-2870
Sascha.Dublin@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Jessica Chubak, PhD

Senior Investigator
206-287-2556
Jessica.Chubak@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Andrea J. Cook, PhD

Senior Biostatistics Investigator
206-287-4257
Andrea.J.Cook@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Rita Mangione-Smith, MD, MPH

Vice President for Research and Health Care Innovation, Kaiser Permanente Washington; Executive Director and Senior Investigator, Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute
206-287-2988
Rita.M.Mangione-Smith@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Eric B. Larson, MD, MPH, MACP

Senior Investigator and former Executive Director, Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute; Former Vice President for Research and Health Care Innovation, Kaiser Permanente Washington
206-287-2988
Eric.B.Larson@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Jennifer C. Nelson, PhD

Director, Biostatistics; Senior Investigator
206-287-2004
Jen.Nelson@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

David E. Arterburn, MD, MPH

Senior Investigator, KPWHRI; Physician, Washington Permanente Medical Group, Internal Medicine
206-287-4610
David.E.Arterburn@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Susan M. Shortreed, PhD

Senior Biostatistics Investigator
206-287-2088
Susan.M.Shortreed@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Lisa A. Jackson, MD, MPH

Senior Investigator
Lisa.A.Jackson@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Karen Wernli, PhD

Associate Investigator
206-287-2934
Karen.J.Wernli@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Onchee Yu, MS

Senior Collaborative Biostatistician
206-287-2389
Onchee.Yu@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Rod L. Walker, MS

Senior Collaborative Biostatistician
206-287-2895
Rod.L.Walker@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Robert D. Wellman, MS

Senior Collaborative Biostatistician
206-287-2557
Robert.D.Wellman@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Gaia Pocobelli, PhD

Collaborative Scientist
206-287-2914
Gaia.S.Pocobelli@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

David S. Carrell, PhD

Associate Investigator
206-287-2705
David.S.Carrell@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Laura Harrington, PhD, MPH

Assistant Investigator
206-287-2066
Laura.B.Harrington@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Jennifer F. Bobb, PhD

Associate Biostatistics Investigator
206-287-2190
Jennifer.F.Bobb@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Weiwei Zhu, MS

Senior Collaborative Biostatistician
206-442-5215
Weiwei.Zhu@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Paige D. Wartko, PhD, MPH

Collaborative Scientist
206-442-5230
Paige.D.Wartko@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Maricela Cruz, PhD

Assistant Biostatistics Investigator
206-287-2878
Maricela.F.Cruz@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Brian D. Williamson, PhD

Assistant Biostatistics Investigator
206-287-2024
Brian.D.Williamson@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Noorie Hyun, PhD

Assistant Biostatistics Investigator
Noorie.Hyun@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Affiliate researchers

Susan Heckbert, MD, PhD
University of Washington (UW) Department of Epidemiology; UW Cardiovascular Health Research Unit

David Siscovick, MD, MPH
UW Department of Medicine; UW Department of Epidemiology; UW Cardiovascular Health Research Unit

Leslie Spangler, PhD
Amgen