CPOE systems can reduce drug errors by almost half

February 21, 2013

Processing a prescription through an electronic ordering system decreases the likelihood of error on that order by 48%, and avert more than 17 million such incidents in US hospitals in 1 year alone, according to research published online in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association.

 

Processing a prescription through an electronic ordering system decreases the likelihood of error on that order by 48%, and averts more than 17 million such incidents in US hospitals in 1 year alone, according to research published online in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association.

 

“Medication errors in hospitals are common, expensive, and sometimes harmful to patients,” one of the study’s authors Lauren Olsho, PhD, senior associate, Abt Associates, told Formulary.

“This study is the first to derive a rigorous estimate of medication error reduction in hospitals attributable to electronic prescribing through computerized provider order entry [CPOE] systems using existing evidence from the peer-reviewed literature applied to nationally representative data.”

effect of CPOE on drug errors

Researchers conducted a systematic literature review and applied random-effects meta-analytic techniques to derive a summary estimate of the effect of CPOE on medication errors. This pooled estimate was combined with data from the 2006 American Society of Health-System Pharmacists Annual Survey, the 2007 American Hospital Association Annual Survey, and the latter’s 2008 Electronic Health Record Adoption Database supplement to estimate the percentage and absolute reduction in medication errors attributable to CPOE.

 

“Our findings suggest that CPOE can substantially reduce the frequency of medication errors in inpatient acute-care settings even at relatively modest levels of adoption and implementation; however, there is still plenty of room for growth. Current HITECH Act incentives to increase health IT adoption and use will likely prevent millions of additional medication errors each year-over 50 million if all orders were processed via CPOE,” Olsho said. “More evidence is also needed on the extent to which lower error rates result in reduced harm to patients.”

The study was funded by the Agency for Healthcare Research & Quality and carried out by researchers at Abt Associates.