Prescription Errors and Computerized Physician Entry Order Systems

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.

Research suggests that errors may decline by as much as 85 percent when hospitals implement these computers systems. However, in many cases these systems may not be fully implemented, and even when they are, the proper diagnostic checks may not be regularly performed. Thus, the systems may not be working at their best capacity to detect these potentially deadly errors.

In at least one study, for example, field tests reflected that about 50 percent of the time the systems fail to properly alert to problem orders, even though some of those orders, if administered to a real patient, could cause death.

However, even when the best computer systems are installed, warning messages may be automatically dismissed out of habit without even having been reviewed. Additionally, these systems are not fail proof, and mistakes can and will continue to happen.

As demonstrated in the other posts on this blog, prescription errors can cause serious injury, and in some cases lead to death. When systems fail, or employees fail to double check, they should be held accountable for the damages they cause to their patients.

If you or a loved one has been injured or died as a result of a medication or pharmacy dispensing error, contact the experienced Maryland prescription error attorneys at Lebowitz & Mzhen Personal Injury Lawyers. Our lawyers have extensive experience in advocating to the full extent of the law on behalf of individuals who have been harmed by medication errors, whether they were improperly prescribed, dispensed, or administered. Contact us today by calling us at (800) 654-1949 or through our website, in order to schedule your complimentary initial consultation.

More Blog Posts:

Woman Told to Take 4 Pills Instead of 1 in Anti-Anxiety Med Error, Pharmacy Error Injury Lawyer Blog, published September 20, 2013
Makers of Tylenol Announce New Label Warnings in Attempt to Reduce Overdoses, Pharmacy Error Injury Lawyer Blog, published September 13, 2013

Contact Information