Once touted as a way of reducing medication errors by pharmacists and doctors, E-prescribing is no more safe than the old-fashioned way of taking a handwritten prescription to the pharmacist yourself, according to Medical News Today. E-prescribing is when the doctor transmits the prescription directly to the pharmacist’s computer. A study published in the Journal of American Medical Information Association found that technology does not eliminate the risk of prescription errors.
In 2008, researchers evaluated 3,850 electronic prescriptions from three pharmacy chain outlets in Florida, Arizona and Massachusetts over one month. The electronic prescriptions came from non-hospital doctors’ offices, and a clinical panel checked the prescriptions for errors.
The results showed that 11.7 percent of the e-prescriptions had some type of mistake. Four percent of those mistakes could cause a significant or serious adverse event. According to researchers, the results are no better than those found in handwritten prescriptions are.
Approximately 190,000 doctors use e-prescriptions in the United States. The doctors motivation to e-prescribe comes from the millions of dollars in Medicare bonuses from the federal government for doctors who e-prescribe. The researchers in the study suggested that improvements to computer software could reduce the error rate associated with e-prescriptions.
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