Around One in 10 Computerized Prescriptions Contains Errors

Most common error is omitted information; one third of errors are potential adverse drug events

FRIDAY, July 1 (HealthDay News) -- Approximately one in 10 computerized outpatient prescriptions contains errors, a third of which are potential adverse drug events, according to a study published online June 29 in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association.

Karen C. Nanji, M.D., M.P.H., from Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, and colleagues examined the frequency, types, and causes of errors associated with 3,850 outpatient computer-generated prescriptions which were received by a commercial outpatient pharmacy chain with branches across three U.S. states over a period of four weeks in 2008. The prescriptions were reviewed and medication errors classified. The incidence of medication errors, potential adverse drug events, and rate of prescribing errors were the primary outcomes measured.

The investigators found that 11.7 percent (452) of the prescriptions had a total of 466 errors. Of these, 35 percent were considered potential adverse drug events. Based on the computerized prescribing system, the error rates ranged between 5.1 and 37.5 percent. Omitted information accounted for 60.7 percent of all errors, making it the most common error.

"The number, type, and severity of prescribing errors varied significantly according to which computerized prescribing system was used, suggesting that systems with more advanced functionality, or those used by physicians with improved computer training, were better able to prevent errors," the authors write.

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