DrFirst Healthcare Technology Blog

Study Shows that E-prescribing Improves Performance while Reducing Medical Errors

April 10, 2012

According to a recent study, hospitals that adopt e-prescribing technology are able to reduce medication errors by almost two-thirds.

The study, published in the peer-reviewed medical journal PLoS Medicine, revealed hospital patient care areas using e-prescribing software reduced error rates from 66 to 58 percent. Serious errors fell by 44 percent in those same areas.

Researchers from the University of New South Wales in Australia studied more than 3,000 patient records in two local hospitals. The researchers were searching for incorrect dosage levels, incomplete drug orders, clinical errors and unclear drug orders.

According to the finding summary, medication errors — everything from allergic reactions to pharmacies misreading a dosage amount — frequently occur in hospitals and medical offices. Researchers found that the errors were responsible for thousands of deaths worldwide each year.

Researchers point to e-prescribing as a way to reduce these errors. Electronic prescribing programs review patients’ medication histories and known allergy lists, alerting doctors to any potential problems with currently prescribed drugs.
The study revealed e-prescribing also reduces the odds that pharmacists will improperly fill a medication order. Instead of relying on illegible physician handwritten notes–pharmacies electronically receive medication errors alerts. According to the researchers, “these findings provide persuasive evidence of the current and potential ability of commercial e-prescribing systems to reduce prescribing errors in hospital in-patients provided these systems are continually monitored and refined to improve performance.”

These findings could result in more and more physicians and hospitals quickly adopting e-prescribing, find out more here.

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About the Author

Peter Kaufman CMO

Schooled at MIT, Dr. Kaufman nurtured a strong interest in medical informatics while a Bowman Gray School of Medicine faculty member. After entering private practice he founded PiNK software in 1996 to produce EMR software, later becoming DrFirst’s chief medical officer upon its founding. He lectures nationally on various healthcare IT topics, and as a board certified gastroenterologist, he continues a limited clinical practice. Dr. Kaufman is a member of the Health IT Standards Committee, Privacy and Security Workgroup for ONC (Office of the National Coordinator for Healthcare Information Technology). Representing the American Gastroenterology Association’s (AGA), Dr. Kaufman is a delegate to the AMA and was the co-chair of the Physicians Electronic Health Record Consortium (PEHRC). He has participated on workgroups at CCHIT (stand-alone e-prescribing), HIMSS (e-prescribing), and NCPDP (e-prescribing).

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