Can Electronic Prescriptions Help Reduce Drug Errors?
Electronic prescriptions or e-prescriptions are computer-generated prescriptions sent electronically from the prescriber to the pharmacy. E-prescribing is intended to reduce the risk of medication errors, which are estimated to cause at least one death every day and injure 1.5 million people in the United States each year.
There are several benefits of e-prescribing, including the ability to:
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Eliminate illegible prescriptions–
We all know how frustrating it can be when a pharmacist can’t read a doctor’s handwriting. E-prescriptions are legible, which reduces the likelihood of errors. When prescriptions are illegible, pharmacists have to make an educated guess of what the doctor intended, leading to mistakes.
Reduce potential drug interactions–
E-prescribing systems have built-in drug interaction checkers that alert prescribers and pharmacists to potential drug interactions. This is important because drug interactions are a leading cause of adverse drug events.
Provide decision support–
E-prescribing systems can provide clinical decision support, such as alerts for allergies, duplicate therapies, and drug-drug interactions. This is important because it can help prescribers make safer prescribing decisions.
Improve patient safety–
E-prescribing can improve patient safety by reducing the risk of medication errors. In one study, e-prescribing was associated with a 41% reduction in medication errors.
E-prescribing can increase efficiency by eliminating the need to fax or call in prescriptions and reducing the time spent on manual tasks such as transcribing prescriptions. This is important because it can free up time for prescribers to see more patients.
Improve communication between prescribers and pharmacists–
Eprescribing can improve communication between prescribers and pharmacists by providing a mechanism for transmitting information electronically. This is important because it can help to ensure that the proper medication is dispensed to the right patient.
Challenges of E-prescriptions
Despite the many benefits of e-prescribing, some challenges still need to be addressed. These include:
The lack of a standard format for e-prescriptions–
There is no standard format for e-prescriptions, making it difficult for pharmacists to interpret them. Having a standard format would improve the clarity of e-prescriptions and reduce the likelihood of errors.
E-prescribing systems are not currently interoperable, meaning they cannot communicate with each other. This makes it difficult for prescribers to send prescriptions to pharmacies that use a different system.
The lack of a national system–
There is no national e-prescribing system in the United States, making it difficult for prescribers and pharmacists to exchange information. There should be a national e-prescribing system that would allow prescribers and pharmacists to exchange information electronically.
The lack of patient education–
There is a lack of patient education about e-prescribing, leading to misunderstandings and errors. This is especially important for patients who take multiple medications.
The benefits of e-prescribing far outweigh the challenges, and e-prescribing is a safe and efficient way to prescribe medications. E-prescribing can help to reduce medication errors, improve patient safety, and increase efficiency.
E-prescribing is the future of prescribing medications, and everyone needs to be aware of its benefits. If you are a doctor or a pharmacist, you should start using e-prescribing today. If you are a patient, you should ask your doctor or pharmacist if they use e-prescribing.