Study Says Benefits of E-Prescribing Outweigh Implementation Challenges


A study recently published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine found that implementing new electronic prescribing systems can decrease the occurrence of medication errors, but it also can present adaptation challenges for physicians using the systems.

Researchers at New York’s Weill Cornell Medical College analyzed e-prescribing implementation at a clinic with 17 doctors between February 2008 and August 2009. The study focused on e-prescribing error rates with the clinic’s previous system, errors occurring 12 weeks after the new system was implemented and errors happening one year after the new system was in place.

The researchers found that e-prescribing errors greatly declined over the new system’s first year, reporting the following statistics:

  • 557 e-prescribing errors under the previous system
  • 338 e-prescribing errors 12 weeks after implementation
  • 191 e-prescribing errors one year after implementation

During the first year of implementation, the overall rate of e-prescription errors fell from 36 percent to 12 percent, and the rate of improper abbreviations for prescriptions dropped from 24 percent to 6 percent. But, the rate of e-prescription errors temporarily doubled within the first 12 weeks of implementation, rising from 9 percent to 18 percent before returning to original level one year after implementation.

In addition to analyzing the rate of e-prescribing errors, the researchers also surveyed 15 of the doctors about their experiences with the new e-prescribing system. The doctors’ reports revealed challenges with the new system. Forty percent of the surveyed doctors stated that they were not satisfied with the new system, and only about a third of them thought the new system was safer than the previous system. The doctors also reported that the system slowed prescription orders and refills.

However, the demonstrated benefit of the new e-prescribing system significantly outweighs the downsides the doctors experienced in this study. The new system resulted in almost two-thirds fewer e-prescribing errors, greatly reducing the risk of illness or death from dangerous medication errors.

If you or a loved one has suffered harm from a medication error, contact a medical malpractice attorney with experience in medication-error cases to discuss any legal claims you may have.

Source: Upgrading E-Prescribing Systems Can Reduce Rx Errors, Pose Challenges

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