Hospital Uses New Computer System to Reduce Pharmacy Errors

In earlier posts, the Maryland pharmacy error attorneys at Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC have discussed how computerized prescription entry programs decrease the risk of patient injury due to pharmacy errors. A study at the Norwalk Hospital in Norwalk, Connecticut is another example of how these systems work.

Recently, I spoke on the phone with a friend who lives in Norwalk and who is currently expecting her first child. As we talked about her child’s upcoming birth and the plans of her and her husband, she mentioned that the hospital where she is likely going to deliver her baby was in a local paper for being one of the safest in the nation. A recent newspaper article highlights how Norwalk Hospital in Norwalk, Connecticut employs a computerized prescription program that has, in part, helped earn nationwide recognition for patient safety. The computer system allows physicians at the hospital to electronically submit prescriptions with dosage instructions to the pharmacy, bypassing the necessity for doctors to write a hardcopy of the prescription. This procedures largely eliminates the possibility that the doctors’ handwriting will be misread.

Dr. Stephen O’Mahony, the associate chairman of medicine and a medical quality officer at Norwalk Hospital commented that, “With the old way we were doing things there was the chance of there being transcription errors, meaning a patient could get the wrong medication, but now there is no chance of [hospital pharmacists] reading it wrong.”

During the three years since the hospital introduced the computerized system, medication errors have decreased from an average of 13 errors per 1,000 patients to 2 errors per 1,000 patients. Additionally, the hospital has noticed a decrease in the length of hospital stays for Medicare recipients from an average of 7 days down to 5.7 days.

The electronic system not only prevents medication errors, it also uses a “best practices” approach to suggest the appropriate drug therapy for particular patients. For example, if a patient comes to the hospital suffering from a heart attack, the computer system will remind the doctor to prescribe aspirin. Also, when a doctor treats a person suffering from pneumonia, the system will prevent the doctor from discharging the patient until the patient has received a flu shot. With features such as these, the hospital’s computerized prescription program helps reduce the time patients suffer from their current aliments, and it also helps reduce the risk of further health problems.

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If you or a loved one has suffered from a prescription error, contact ourMaryland pharmacy error attorneys at Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC for a free consolation.

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