As many as 12 percent of prescriptions sent electronically to pharmacies contain errors, and the rate matches handwritten scrips from docs. An analysis of 3,850 computer-generated scrips written over a four-week period in 2008 found 452 had errors, including 163 that could harm patients, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association.
Interestingly, the 11.7 percent error rate was consistent with previous studies that reviewed the risk of mistakes made when a doctor writes a scrip and hands it to a patient, the researchers wrote. The most common error was omitted info, such as dosage or how often a med shoud be taken - 60.7 percent of all errors. Error rates varied by computerized prescribing system, from 5.1 percent to 37.5 percent (read the abstract).
The results undermine the expected safety benefits from computer-generated scrips, wrote the authors, who were led by Karen Nanji of Massachusetts General Hospital. "Implementing a computerized prescribing system without comprehensive functionality and processes in place to ensure meaningful system use does not decrease medication errors," they wrote.
“Providers appear to be rapidly adopting electronic health records and computerized prescribing, and one of the major anticipated benefits is expected to be through medication-error reduction,” they noted. “Many of these benefits will not be realized if the electronic prescribing applications are not mature and either do not catch or even cause new medication errors.”
The US paid more than $158.3 million to doctors and hospitals in the first half of 2011 to encourage adoption of electronic health records and, ultimately, lower health care costs, Bloomberg News notes (you can read more here).
oops pic thx to dingler1109 at flickr