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Electronic Health Records May Help Reduce Prescription Error

David W. Hodges
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Partner at Kennedy Hodges LLP practicing pharmacy error, medical malpractice and personal injury law
Posted on Oct 12, 2012

When you receive a handwritten prescription from the doctor and you can’t read it, it may cross your mind that the pharmacist cannot read it either and fill the wrong medication. For this reason, and many other reasons, more and more hospitals and physicians are adopting electronic health records (EHRs). In fact, there are over 3,500 hospitals and 150,000 physicians who have registered for the EHR program.

Many patients were hesitant that their information would be online or that they would have electronic access to their medical information. However, now that more people have interacted with their electronic health records, more and more consumers as well as doctors and hospitals are partial to them. Patients can have access to their test results, request prescription refills, identify what prescription they are taking, email the doctor and schedule appointments.

So how is an EHR helpful in reducing prescription error?

While you in sitting in the doctor’s office, you may not remember what prescription the doctor said he would transmit directly to your pharmacy. When you get to your pharmacy, they hand you a prescription and go over the instructions with you. Before you take the medication, you can go online to check you EHR to verify that the prescription matches the name and dosage in your records. If not, you should call the pharmacy and find out what medication they gave you.

By checking your own records, you may be able to help avoid taking the wrong medication. Unfortunately, pharmacies do make medication mistakes and EHRs are helping to effectively reduce errors and improve care. While having prescriptions routed electronically to your pharmacy can improve accuracy from handwritten prescription errors, it is still not infallible.

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