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Fewer Medication Errors Ocurring Due to Computerized Drug Order Systems

David W. Hodges
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Partner at Kennedy Hodges LLP practicing pharmacy error, medical malpractice and personal injury law
Posted on Aug 13, 2013

Did you know that patients in hospitals are subject to an average of one medication error per day? Due to the high risk of potential harm, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) strongly recommends the use of e-prescribing. When doctors and pharmacists use computerized provider order entry (CPOE) systems to prescribe and fill medication, prescription errors are reduced and patients fall victim to fewer drug mistakes.

There is no denying that technology has helped the health care industry, especially when it comes to the procedures that doctors and pharmacists use to process drug orders and prescriptions. In fact, CPOE systems have led to millions of fewer hospital medication errors, according to a study published this past February in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association.

This study revealed that since 2008, over 17 million medication errors in U.S. hospitals annually have been averted due to the use of CPOE systems. The study analyzed previously published studies and surveys of hospital pharmacists that were carried out by the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) and by the American Hospital Association (AHA), as well as other studies.

The hospital medication errors studied in these studies included:

  • Ordering errors
  • Transcribing errors
  • Dispensing errors
  • Administration errors
  • Monitoring errors

The researchers estimated that ordering and processing a drug through the CPOE system reduces a medication error by 48 percent and the overall rate of medication errors by 12.5 percent, which equals to approximately 17.4 million medication errors avoided in this nation annually. However, CPOE systems are not free from error. A doctor can choose a wrong drug from a pull-down menu and a patient can still receive the wrong medication even with the use of e-prescribing.

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