E Prescribing Does Not Come Without Faults

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Recent research has discovered that contrary to popular opinion, outpatient electronic prescribing systems still create the common and same errors that take place in manual systems.

The research involved analyses of 3,850 prescriptions that came from the e-prescription system. These prescriptions were delivered to a drug store chain scattered over three different states in the US for one month. The study has discovered that among the prescriptions, almost 12% (nearly 452) contained errors or mistakes. The even more alarming thing is that a third of those mistakes all come with the harmful risks.

Although none of the 163 errors were classified as life-threatening, the number of ‘significant’ and ‘serious’ effects still raised worries. 58 percent of the errors were found to trigger rashes, headaches or diarrhoea (and are thus termed significant) while 42 percent could promote a lower heart rate, fainting and low blood sugar (also referred to as serious).

The study found out that 27% of the errors involved nervous system drugs. With 13.5% percent of them covered drugs aimed at the cardiovascular system. And, 12.3% pointed to antibiotics or anti-inflammatory drugs.

The errors committed by the 13 electronic prescribing systems which were analysed by the study actually differed. Their percentages of committing those mistakes ranged from 5% up to 37%. The study which was published in the online edition of the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association last June 29 disclosed that fact.

Dr. Karen Nanji and her colleagues at Massachusetts General Hospital’s department of anaesthesia, critical care and pain medicine remarked that the providers seems to rapidly adopt electronic health records and computerised prescribing, and one included in the main anticipated benefits is expected to be done by medication-error reduction.

However, according to the authors of the study - medication errors would not be decreased if the computerised prescribing system does not have a comprehensive functionality and processes set in place - which ensure a meaningful use of the system. 

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