As previously discussed on this blog, one of the most common errors made by prescribing doctors, or in those who input values, is accidentally increasing the dosage, such as in the entering of “10.0 mg,” when the person should have input “1.0 mg.” Even though the error is only a matter of a decimal, it could kill or severely injure a patient.
Medication errors such as these occur frequently, at an estimated one million incidents each year, contributing to 7,000 deaths.
According to recent research, the best known way for hospitals to protect patients from errors is by adopting technology called computerized physician order entry (CPOE). The way these systems work, is that when the person who is entering the prescription into the system enters the values, they are checked against the patient’s records, allergies, etc. This information is then cross referenced for safety and other measures before being sent to the pharmacy. In the opening hypothetical, a properly performing system would alert the physician to the misplaced decimal in the order. Some of the best systems may have actually prevented the order from being written in the first place.