A recent study concluded that several medical errors in Ohio, errors committed in the form of adverse drug events, or an error with medication, could be prevented if doctors were to make the switch to electronic writing of prescriptions rather than continuing with antiquated hand-written prescriptions.
The study concluded that there was a significantly less likelihood that the doctor would commit an error if they were selecting the prescription from a drop down menu. 7 per 100 prescriptions were found to have errors when selected electronically, versus 37 out of 100 when hand-written. These statistics do not even count for the incidents when the pharmacist could not read the writing and had to call the doctor. However, even such situations can cause a delay and be detrimental to the patient.
When an adverse drug event does occur, the effects can be minor, such as a rash, or major, even resulting in death. So it is critical that Ohio doctors monitor this closely.
Medical malpractice claims make up millions of dollars in damages. If doctors across Ohio were to make this simple switch, not only could the system possibly be more efficient, but it appears that the rate of adverse drug events would be drastically cut, reducing the number of events to about one fifth the rate witnessed in hand-written prescriptions.
Source: The New York Times, "Chicken Scratch vs. Electronic Prescriptions," Randall Stross, April 28, 2012