Survey Says One in 13 Patients Suffers Drug-Related Injury in Canada
Posted on Apr 09, 2012
Electronic prescribing is the key to bringing down the high rate of harmful medication errors in hospitals, says a Canadian patient safety survey.
The study, the first annual patient safety to include Canadian hospitals nationwide, found that nearly 25% of incidents of patient injury are a result of medication error. About one in 13 inpatients suffers adverse reactions to a medication mistake; only surgery causes more preventable harm in Canadian hospitals.
While out-patient prescription errors occur at a slightly lower rate, between 10% and 15%, they may still result in recurring hospital visits, pain and suffering, or even preventable death.
However, the study shows that these errors can be greatly reduced when computers are made part of the prescribing process. Since September 2011, pharmacists have been using updated technology that can check the entire patient database in seconds, preventing the inaccurate dispensing of drugs and detecting duplicate prescriptions at other pharmacies.
Every electronic record contains a complete patient medical history, including drug allergies and current medical conditions. The prescription software also flags potential drug interactions, which is helpful in preventing mistakes in the elderly, since the average senior citizen fills almost 40 prescriptions per year.
The pharmacy software can also stop potential mistakes before they happen at the very first step of the process: prescribing. Many drug mistakes are the result of a doctor’s illegible handwriting, which a typed scrip easily corrects. The newer programs do not allow doctors to use abbreviations for timing and dosage, and also use pop-up windows to alert physicians to potential medication conflicts.
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