Physicians click their way to better prescriptions

Mar 10, 2010

Is it time for all community-based doctors to turn to e-prescribing to cut down on the number of medication errors? According to Rainu Kaushal and colleagues from the Weill Cornell Medical College in New York, electronic prescriptions can dramatically reduce prescribing errors - up to seven-fold. Their study of the benefits of e-prescribing in primary care practices appears online in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

In the U.S. there is a strong national push to encourage doctors to adopt ambulatory e-prescribing. An estimated 2.6 billion drugs are provided, prescribed, or continued at ambulatory care visits. Demonstrating the potential safety gains through health information technology is important to bring small group physician practices on board.

To assess the effects of e-prescribing on , the authors looked at the number and severity of prescribing errors - such as ordering a medication but omitting the quantity, prescribing a drug to a patient with a known allergy to the active ingredient and injuries from medication - in 12 community-based medical practices in the Hudson Valley region of New York. The study's authors compared the number of prescription errors between those who adopted e-prescribing (15 doctors) and those who stuck with paper-based (15 doctors) between September 2005 and June 2007. In total, the researchers analyzed 3,684 paper-based prescriptions at the start of the study, and 1,543 paper-based and 2,305 electronic prescriptions after a year.

The providers who adopted e-prescribing over the study period used a commercial, stand-alone system with clinical decision support such as dosing recommendations and checks for drug-allergy interactions, drug-to-drug interactions and duplicate therapies.

Kaushal and team found that among those who used e-prescribing, there was an almost seven-fold decrease in prescribing errors after one year - from 42.5 percent at the start of the study to 6.6 percent after a year. In contrast, among those who used traditional paper-based prescriptions, the level of errors remained high: 37.3 percent at baseline versus 38.4 percent at one year. Predictably, illegibility errors were completely eliminated by e-prescribing.

The authors conclude: "Prescribing errors may occur much more frequently in community-based practices than previously reported. Our study is one of the first to demonstrate a reduction in prescribing errors in ambulatory solo and small group community practices, where e-prescribing adoption and usage has lagged. Our findings suggest that stand-alone e-prescribing with clinical decision support may significantly improve ambulatory medication safety."

Explore further: Keeping that weight loss resolution

More information: Kaushal R et al (2010). Electronic prescribing improves medication safety in community-based office practices. Journal of General Internal Medicine, DOI 10.1007/s11606-009-1238-8

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Keeping that weight loss resolution

9 hours ago

(HealthDay)—If you're one of the many Americans who plan to lose weight next year, there are a number of things you can do to improve your chances of success, an expert says.

A case for treating both mind and body

17 hours ago

New research from Rutgers University lends more support to the idea that integrating treatment of mind and body could lead to better - and cheaper - medical care.

Pregnant woman taken off life support in Ireland

Dec 26, 2014

A brain-dead pregnant woman was taken off life support Friday after a court ruled that her 18-week-old fetus was doomed to die—a case that exposed fear and confusion among doctors over how to apply Ireland's ...

'Tis the season to overeat

Dec 25, 2014

(HealthDay)—Overeating is common during the holidays, but there are strategies that can help you eat in moderation, an expert says.

Don't let burns mar your holidays

Dec 25, 2014

(HealthDay)—The risk of burns from fires and cooking accidents increases during the holidays, so you need to be extra cautious, an expert says.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.