HealthcarePapers

HealthcarePapers 5(3) October 2004 : 52-68.doi:10.12927/hcpap..16866
Commentary

Improving Patient Safety through Computerized Drug Management: The Devil Is in the Details

Robyn Tamblyn

Abstract

Electronic prescribing and computerized drug management can improve the safety, quality and cost-effectiveness of prescribing. However, if the problems that lead to avoidable adverse events are not addressed by information technology, there is a risk of making considerable investment without the expected return of error reduction and improved patient safety. Improving the safety of prescribing is particularly important in ambulatory care, where most drugs are prescribed. To improve patient safety, IT solutions should be developed that provide: (1) access to the list of all currently active drugs, (2) alerts for relevant prescribing problems (therapeutic duplication, excess dose, dose adjustment for weight [children, elderly] and renal impairment, drug-disease, drug-drug, drug-age and drug-allergy contraindications), (3) the capacity to electronically submit medication stop orders to the dispensing pharmacy and (4) integration of electronic prescriptions (e-rx) into pharmacy software to avoid transcription errors. To improve quality of prescribing, IT solutions should be capable of providing physicians with reminders and alerts for evidence-based preventive care and disease management based on patient-specific drug, disease, therapeutic intent and other relevant clinical information. To improve the cost-effectiveness of prescribing, IT solutions should be developed to provide the cost of medication at the time the prescription is written, and evidence-based alerts for drugs of choice recommendations when appropriate.

 

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