Utilization of Computer System May Lead to MILLIONS Fewer Medication Errors

A recent article published in the Pharmacy Times, describes the astounding results of a study regarding the use of computerized provider order entry (CPOE) systems in hospitals. The study determined that as of 2008, the use of such systems has helped to avoid more than 17 million medication errors per year in hospitals nationwide so far.
According to the Institute of Medicine (IOM), hospitalized patients are subject on average to at least one medication error per day, which creates the potential for creating medical complications and lasting injury.
The researchers in the study estimated that as of 2008, around one third of all acute-care hospitals in the United States had begun using these types of systems, but only a little over half of them actually used them regularly. Based on that underlying presumption and other data the researchers collected, they estimated that as of 2008, around 26% of medication orders in acute-care hospitals were processed using the CPOE systems.
The computer systems are believed to reduce the chance of prescription medication error by 48%. Coupled with the degree to which CPOE systems have been adopted in hospitals nationwide, it is estimated that the use of the system has reduced the rate of medication errors by 12.5%. That means 17.4 million fewer medication errors throughout the United States in just one year.

There is a caveat however. The reduced number of errors does not necessarily correlate with less harm to the patient. Additionally, the implementation of the systems allows for new ways of making errors such as when a clinician selects either an incorrect medication or dosage from a pull down menu.

Even though the reduction in the errors was a welcomed achievement, the researchers noted that because there is not a universal use of these computer systems, there is much room for improvement to further reduce the widespread occurrence of medication errors.

The effort to reduce the number of medication errors falls on all parts of the health care system, including patients. It is important to always review medications prescribed to you, making sure it is the correct medication. It is also important to fully understand the instructions provided by one’s healthcare provider and ask questions if in doubt. Often times a patient must be their own advocate. Unfortunately, even with a sophisticated system, such as the one seen at the Palomar Medical Center, errors may still occur. Human beings are not perfect, and even excellent computer systems cannot completely correct them.

The experienced Maryland attorneys at Lebowitz & Mzhen can assist victims of medication errors, who have been injured by drugs prescribed, dispensed, or administered incorrectly. Contact us today online or at (800) 654-1949 for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your case.

More Blog Posts:

CVS to Pay $650,000 and Establish Safety Procedures Following Prescription Errors in New Jersey, Pharmacy Error Injury Lawyer Blog, published March 12, 2013
Surgical Never Events Occur at Least 4,000 a Year, Study Finds, Pharmacy Error Injury Lawyer Blog, published March 5, 2013

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