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Computerized Provider Order Entry System Cuts Rx Errors

Given effect size, CPOE use, estimated reduction of 12.5 percent in medication errors each year

MONDAY, March 4 (HealthDay News) -- Electronic prescribing through computerized provider order entry (CPOE) systems can substantially reduce medication errors in inpatient acute-care settings, according to a study published online Feb. 20 in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association.

David C. Radley, Ph.D., M.P.H., from the Institute for Healthcare Improvement in Cambridge, Mass., and colleagues systematically reviewed the literature and applied random-effects meta-analytic techniques to estimate the effect of CPOE on medication errors. To estimate the percentage and absolute reduction in medication errors due to CPOE, these data were combined with data from the 2006 American Society of Health-System Pharmacists Annual Survey, the 2007 American Hospital Association Annual Survey, and the American Hospital Association 2008 Electronic Health Record Adoption Database supplement.

The researchers found that the likelihood of an error was reduced significantly, by 48 percent, with processing of a prescription drug order through a CPOE system. Based on this effect size and the 2008 degree of adoption and use of CPOE in hospitals, this represented an estimated 12.5 percent decrease in medication errors, corresponding with approximately 17.4 million medication errors prevented over one year in the United States.

"Our findings suggest that CPOE can substantially reduce medication errors in hospitals," write the authors. "Given the modest adoption and implementation rates to date, there is still great potential for this technology to reduce medication errors."

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