Study: Technology reduces hospital medication errors

There's No Substitute for Experience

Over the years there has been much emphasis put on reducing medication errors in order to prevent adverse reactions among patients. It seems that researchers and doctors are continuously evaluating commonly used practices and questioning what needs to change to prevent these medical errors.

Recently, the results of a study analyzing the use of computerized provider order entry systems, known as CPOE systems, were published in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association. The study found there was a 48 percent reduction rate in medication errors among hospitals who adopted the technology. This means there were 17.4 million errors prevented last year.

With this type of system, a doctor is able to order medication through a drop-down menu on a computer. This prevents the misinterpretation of what the physician wrote and also alerts clinicians to any possible negative drug interactions based on the other medications the patient is taking.

This is rather important as a study in 2007 found that the average patient in a hospital is subject to one error involving medication a day. Keep in mind though that this Institute of Medicine study was conducted before 2008, when Congress gave $20 billion to health information technology. The hope has been that technology will be able to more effectively prevent common medical errors.

Of course though there are always concerns involving the increased use of technology and what the long term effects of relying on these systems will be. But what do you think? Is technology the answer? What else can hospitals be doing to prevent errors? What about medical errors outside of medications?

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