Computer Entry May Cut Prescription Errors by Almost Half

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In 2007, the Institute of Medicine alleged that the average hospital patient was subjected to one medication error every day. This was before Congress began providing money for a national health information technology infrastructure, which provides a useful baseline to determine how well computerized provider order entry (CPOE) is reducing medication errors in United States hospitals.

A recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association found that the CPOE system is significantly reducing medication error rates for patients in Kentucky and across the nation. The study found that CPOE has reduced medication error rates by about 48% and that it  prevented approximately 17.4 million medication errors in 2008 alone.

CPOE allows healthcare professionals to choose a drug and a drug dosage from drop-down menus on the computer, rather than handwriting the prescription. This could help prevent errors based on handwriting, since some drug names are similar and handwriting could be misinterpreted in the pharmacy. 

Researchers suggest that if additional hospitals adopt CPOE, then the medication error rate may decrease further. However, they caution that it is unclear whether a reduced medication error rate will also reduce patient injury due to medication errors. Further research will need to be conducted as more hospitals adopt the CPOE method in an effort to decrease potentially serious medication errors.

Our Kentucky medication error attorneys hope that the number of potentially dangerous medication errors continues to decrease in the Commonwealth of Kentucky and across the country through the adoption of CPOE and other medication error prevention strategies.