Electronic Systems Reduce Drug Errors in Psychiatry

Computerized prescription and error reporting systems dramatically reduce most types of errors

THURSDAY, April 7 (HealthDay News) -- The combination of an electronic prescribing system and a computerized error reporting system significantly reduces the number of medication errors in a hospital's psychiatric unit, according to a study published in the March issue of the Journal of Psychiatric Practice.

Geetha Jayaram, M.D., of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, and colleagues investigated the impact of implementing an electronic drug ordering system (Provider Order Entry, or POE) along with a Web-based system for reporting errors (Patient Safety Net) on the medication error rate in the psychiatry ward of Johns Hopkins Hospital. Adverse drug events (ADEs) from 42 randomly chosen charts from 2003 were compared to 40 charts each from 2005 and 2007. Data on the number and category of errors were recorded.

The researchers found a reduction in the number of ADEs, from 369 in 2003 to 148 in 2005 and 89 in 2007. There was a significant reduction in the reported medication error rate, from 27.89 errors per 1,000 patient-days in 2003 to 5.50 in 2005 and 3.43 in 2007. With the introduction of the POE system, errors related to prescribing and transcribing, and to preparation and administration, decreased significantly. No major medication errors causing morbidity or mortality occurred during the study period.

"With the use of electronic ordering, training of personnel, and standardized information technology systems, it is possible to eliminate dangerous medication errors," Jayaram said in a statement.

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