Saturday, July 2, 2011

E Prescribing Errors. Are You Surprised?

Has your doctor sent your prescription "electronically" by computer? A recent analysis of almost 4000 prescriptions showed that error rates with these "e prescriptions" occur just as frequently as with handwritten prescriptions.

These prescription errors are not the same as a pharmacy dispensing error in which the prescription was fine but the pharmacy messed up.

About 11 percent of  e prescriptions contained an error. 4 percent of e prescriptions had an error that could have had led to a serious problem.

I think the main lesson here is that in order to reduce errors, regardless of technology, the prescriber and the pharmacist, both need to be careful and diligent. And they ought to freely communicate with each other if there are questions or uncertainties.

And you as the patient should examine the medicine dispensed and check with the pharmacy or your doctor if things seem suspicious or you are otherwise concerned.

Despite this evidence, the feds are doling out financial rewards for doctors who e prescribe and soon will exact penalties for those who fail to e prescribe.

Have you had an error on one of your prescriptions that you thought was serious?
Have you had a pharmacy dispense the wrong medicine?

Reference:
Nanji KC, et al "Errors associated with outpatient computerized prescribing systems" J Am Med Inform Assoc 2011; DOI:
10.1136/amiajnl-2011-000205.


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