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E-Prescribing Reduces Pharmacy Errors, But Still Room for Human Error

David W. Hodges
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Partner at Kennedy Hodges LLP practicing pharmacy error, medical malpractice and personal injury law
Posted on Sep 30, 2013

With the fear of prescription errors due to physicians’ unreadable handwriting, more and more doctors are sending prescriptions to pharmacies electronically. In fact, eight of every 10 doctors in Michigan now use E-prescribing, according to Surescripts. Additionally, an increase in doctors nationwide started using this technology, as the health care industry has placed a great emphasis on electronic prescriptions.

While it is a known fact that E-prescribing cuts down on pharmacy errors and helps to minimize adverse drug reactions for patients taking multiple prescriptions, prescriptions sent electronically to pharmacies are not error proof. There is still room for human error. Although overall patient safety is improved with this technology, there are still concerns and challenges with electronic prescriptions, such as:

  • Wrong information is input into the E-prescribing system
  • Doctors mistakenly pick the wrong medication from the pull-down window on the computer
  • Incorrect dosage is selected from the drop-down menu

Although E-prescribing is believed to improve patient safety by reducing errors, patients can still receive the wrong medication or the wrong drug dose due to a doctor’s mistake. This is why pharmacists need to be on a heightened alert—making sure the correct patient receives the correct medication each and every time.

When doctors are transitioning from room to room seeing patients, their busy environments may cause them to accidentally make an error when using E-prescribing. In the same way, busy pharmacists often do not counsel with every patient and don’t catch mistakes made by doctors because of their high-pressure environments. 

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