Review of Epocrates
by Marty Couret, MSN, NP
Epocrates has taken the standard drug guide on every NPs desk and crammed it into a palm sized computer. This program is extremely well thought out and well planned. It is also free.
Epocrates allows you to search via drug name or by class. This reviewer preferred to search via drug name. As I entered the letters of the medication I was looking for, the search program scrolled down and highlighted the drug name before I even finished writing, allowing me to select the medication quickly. The medication page itself opened with the adult dosing based on diagnosis. For example Verapamil gave me adult doses for angina (Prinzmetal’s and variant), hypertension, atrial fibrillation, and migraine prophylaxis. The adult dosing page even had suggested dosing for renal patients. If you are a PNP you can configure Epocrates to open to that page first.
The menu in the bottom left corner allows the user to check pediatric dosing, contraindications, drug interactions, adverse reactions, cost, and package information. By selecting the second to last choice “Other Information”, I was able to check the pregnancy category, lactation recommendations, metabolism, excretion, and DEA Schedule. This page even gave me the mechanism of action. The last selection lets the user write personal notes about each medication.
Searching by class of medication is just as simple as long as you know what class of medication you are looking for. This option required making selections through at least two menus. This would be helpful if you were unsure of what calcium channel blocker that you wanted to use.
Downloading Epocrates was a bit confusing at first. I did not have any problems but there were a lot of steps to follow and understand. In all fairness, it was my first attempt at downloading anything off of the Internet.
The menu icon in the bottom left corner provides the user with different applications and operations. The most useful function is the drug interaction operation. Simply input all the medications that the patient is on and the Epocrates will tell you all of the possible interactions that may occur. This is great for clients that are taking 10-15 different medications.
Perhaps the greatest aspect of this program however is the auto updates that transpire every time you hotsync your PDA. As information is exchanged the program will save “DocAlerts”. These are health warnings concerning the changes of dosing and removal of products from the market. For example, Epocrates DocAlert notified me a day after Lotronex was pulled from the market. Now if I look up Lotronex, it says that it was pulled from the U.S. market.
This is an excellent product that I use on a regular basis. I highly recommend its use to all NPs.
To find out more about Epocrates go to Epocrates.com