Handwritten Prescriptions Show High Rate of Prescription Errors

Maryland prescription errors can occur at different stages in the prescription process. One of the ways errors can occur is when a pharmacist misinterprets the doctor’s handwriting on the prescription form. Errors can also occur when a doctor handwrites a prescription but forgets to include certain pertinent information.

Pharmacy CounterEven when a prescription error is not fatal, it can still seriously affect a patient’s safety and quality of health. Advocates have encouraged doctors to reduce prescription errors by introducing automated systems, uniform prescribing charts, and immediate review of prescriptions. Some argue that in addition to improving the readability of prescriptions, electronic prescriptions can also help by providing the doctor with optimal dosages.

Study Finds Handwritten Prescriptions Contain More Mistakes than Electronic Prescriptions

According to one news source, a recent study looking at opioid prescriptions found that there were more mistakes in written prescriptions than in electronic prescriptions. The study looked at prescriptions filled at a pharmacy at Johns Hopkins Hospital. The researchers sought to determine whether prescription processing methods contributed to inconsistencies and errors in opioid distribution. The researchers reviewed all of the prescriptions processed for adults during a 15-day period. There were 510 prescriptions in total. The study evaluated the prescriptions based on three criteria:  compliance with best practice guidelines, which include standards such as legibility and including the date; the inclusion of at least two patient identifiers; and compliance with federal opioid prescription rules, which require including the patient’s full name and address.

The study showed that 42 percent of the prescriptions contained some error. However, 92 percent of handwritten prescriptions either did not meet ideal practice standards, failed to comply with federal opioid prescription rules, or contained errors such as the lack of at least two patient identifiers. Although the handwritten and electronic prescriptions both failed to meet ideal practice standards at the same rate, all of the prescriptions that did not include at least two patient identifiers or violated best practices were handwritten prescriptions. A shocking 89 percent of the handwritten prescriptions failed to meet best practice guidelines or were missing at least two forms of patient identification information. In contrast, no electronic prescriptions showed these errors.

The study’s lead author noted that there were legibility issues with the handwritten prescriptions, as they had suspected. However, there were also often errors such as missing patient identification information and errors in abbreviations.

Baltimore Attorneys Representing Injured Patients

If you or a loved one has suffered harm due to a prescription error, contact a personal injury attorney as soon as possible. At Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC, our attorneys have over 20 years of experience litigating claims related to medication errors and pharmacy misfills throughout the Maryland and Washington, D.C. areas. We can work closely with medical experts to assess your claim and aggressively pursue the compensation that you deserve. Call us toll-free at 800-654-1949 or 410-654-3600 or contact us online for a free consultation.

More Blog Posts:

Pharmacy Error Rates May Be Artificially Low Due to a Lack of Mandatory Reporting Requirements, Pharmacy Error Injury Lawyer Blog, June 29, 2017.

Pharmacy Errors Involving Expired Medication, Pharmacy Error Injury Lawyer Blog, July 11, 2017.

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