Technology has been changing the medical industry with such systems as electronic prescribing (e-prescribing). While many people feel like e-prescribing has improved prescription efficiency and reduced pharmacy errors, there are many weaknesses of the system that contribute to e-prescribing errors.
According to the Institute for Safe Medication Practices (ISMP), two weaknesses of the system have been reported, including:
- Medication Name Fields on Prescription. An example of this weakness was published in Pharmacy Times regarding confusion between OxyCONTIN and oxyCODONE. A pharmacist failed to notice that OxyCONTIN was printed immediately below the prescription for oxyCODONE 30mg tablets. As a result, the pharmacist dispensed oxyCODONE instead of OxyCONTIN. After a couple days of taking the wrong medication, the patient realized his tablets looked different from his last prescription and called the pharmacy. The pharmacist reviewed the computer-generated prescription and found the prescription error. To prevent this from happening again, the pharmacist called the doctor and discussed how drug names of computer-generated prescriptions still need to be clear in order to reduce pharmacy errors.
- Duplicate Electronic Prescriptions Being Transmitted. The system sometimes transmits duplicate copies of prescriptions, which wastes pharmacists’ time and adds to the confusion behind the pharmacy counter. Pharmacists don’t know if the duplicate is actually a duplicate, or if there is an addition on the prescription or a change in medication. This function of the e-prescribing system causes confusion and lessens the time for pharmacists to consult with customers.
Although these possible e-prescribing errors could result in patients getting the wrong medication or wrong dosage of medication, most pharmacy mistakes are caught when pharmacists pull medications out of the bag and review the prescriptions with customers during a consultation. To remind those you know to always request a pharmacist consultation, share this blog on Facebook to help prevent someone you know from being a victim of pharmacy malpractice.