Electronic prescribing reduces medical errors

I once did a survey of physicians presenting a picture of an actual handwritten prescription with typical doctor script. The room was split- 1/2 saw “avandia” and 1/2 saw “coumadin” both available in the same mg size. Each with quite different but very significant toxicities. Scary!! In this common scenario, the alert pharmacist would call the doc for clarification. But errors like this slip through. One of my first diagnostic coups, in my training was to correct the diagnosis of a patient thought to have an insulinoma causing low blood sugars, but found to have been mistakenly dispensed “diabinese” a diabetes drug no longer available with “diamox” because of poor handwriting. We changed to computerized prescribing at our clinic several years ago. It was a bit tough at first to change those habits. We had to go throught the office and collect all the old prescription pads to help docs along. Our prescribing system is going to take another leap near future, so that the information put into the computer is discrete, so that the computer will be able to understand not only that the drug is right, but if the dose is appropriate for the given situation. Downside- it might take longer - more “clicks”, and if you kind find exactly what you want, it can be aggravating. But, I am glad to see that there is increasing evidence that e-prescribing reduces errors