Reading Back Verbal Orders Cuts Medical Mistakes

Residents reduced medication order errors from 9.1 percent to 0 percent

TUESDAY, May 2 (HealthDay News) -- Residents can reduce verbal medication order errors to just about zero by simply reading orders back to the attending physician or chief resident as they are entering them on portable computers during rounds, according to research presented at the annual meeting of the Pediatric Academic Societies in San Francisco.

Michael T. Vossmeyer, M.D., of Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center in Ohio, and colleagues analyzed the process for making and recording verbal entries during rounds. They found that when the attending physician or chief resident gave orders to residents, who entered them into a portable computer at the patient's bedside, there was an error in fewer than seven out of 70 cases, or 9.1 percent. In two cases, residents entered the wrong drug, although most mistakes would not have harmed the patient.

The researchers designed a new system in which residents read back orders as they entered them. By the end of the study, the new system had cut verbal order errors to 0 percent without adding any extra time to the process.

"A simple order read-back process resulted in a significant decrease in verbal order errors without an apparent increase in workload," the authors write. "Follow-up is being conducted to determine if the results are sustainable and the process is reliable."


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