E-prescribing Usage Increases with Doctors, but Not Without Problems

As our Washington D.C. Pharmacy Error Injury Attorneys reported in a recent blog, physicians who are not prescribing medications electronically, or e-prescribing, by 2012 will be financially penalized by the federal government.

Although the use of electronic prescribing has increased in years, and evidence shows that e-prescribing can reduce pharmacy misfills that can lead to patient injury or even wrongful death, many local doctors reportedly clam that overall acceptance of this important technology is lagging.

According to a study published last week by the Washington-based think tank, the Center for Studying Health System Change, less than one-third of this country’s physicians in office settings, are e-prescribing. The study also revealed that even fewer physicians that were e-prescribing were using the beneficial aspects of the system, like searching for serious drug interactions and using the system to cross reference patient insurance for prescription drug verifications to ensure health plan payment coverage. The study also found that even fewer doctors who used the electronic system would actually prescribe medications electronically, opting to use the fax machine instead for prescription submittal.

The Institute of Medicine (IOM) claims 1.5 million people in this country are injured by preventable medication errors, with nearly 7,000 deaths every year.

Although e-prescriptions can save lives, and eliminate medication errors, according to physician Alex Stemer, M.D. e-prescribing still has a long way to go in terms of improvements. Stemer claims that using the system in his practice has opened up a new kind of error, that he calls the “wrong-click error.” Stemer claims that when a doctor e-prescribes, and types the name of the prescribed drug in the system, a list of prescription drug names appear on the screen to choose from. If a physician accidentally clicks on a drug with a similar name, or clicks on the wrong dose, dangerous medication errors could occur.

Stemer claims that although new versions of e-prescribing software might be more accurate, for now, many versions are not even offering black box warnings. He claims that some pharmacists are also not yet up to speed, and only read their email a few times a day, leaving patients waiting for their prescriptions that should have been filled already.

In Maryland or the Washington, D.C. area, contact Lebowitz and Mzhen, LLC today.

E-prescription Use Grows, But Some Hurdles Remain, Post-Tribune, August 2, 2010
Even When Physicians Adopt E-prescribing, Use of Advanced Features Lags, Center for Studying Health System Change Press Release, July 22, 2010

Related Web Resources:

Weill Cornell Medical College: Quality and Medical Informatics Division Study Shows E-Prescribing Significantly Reduces Errors, March 2010

Institute for Safe Medication Practices, (ISMP)

Institute of Medicine, (IOM)

National Coordinating Council for Medication Error Reporting and Prevention, (NCCMERP)

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