Blog | Thursday, July 7, 2011

QD: News Every Day--E-prescribing no better than handwriting for prescription errors

About 10% of computer-generated prescriptions included at least one error, of which a third had potential for harm, researchers reported in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association.

This error rate matched that of handwritten prescriptions, deflating at least one reason for the federal government's incentives to switch providers to e-prescribing. The government had provided incentives for switching to e-prescribing; those turned to penalties for not doing so on July 30.

Researchers conducted a retrospective cohort study of 3,850 e-prescriptions received by a commercial outpatient pharmacy chain across three states over four weeks in 2008. A panel reviewed them for medication errors, potential adverse drug events, and rate of prescribing errors by type and by prescribing system.

Of the 3,850 prescriptions, 452 (11.7%) contained a total of 466 errors, of which 163 (35.0%) were potential adverse drug events. The most common error was omitted information (60.7% of all errors). Error rates varied by the prescribing system used from 5.1% to 37.5%, suggesting that some systems may be better at preventing errors than others, the authors wrote.