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Study Shows Electronic Prescription Systems Stop Mistakes

February 21st, 2014

Mistakes made in the health care field can cause tremendous suffering, and sometimes even death. In hospitals alone it is estimated that there is an error made in patient care for one out of every seven patients, and of those about a third have to do with their medication. Now an Australian study has shown that when hospitals convert from the old fashioned method of having physicians write their prescriptions down with paper and pen to a system of entering them onto an electronic prescription system, the number of errors drops  by an astonishing sixty percent.

The study was published in PLoS Medicine, and points to a number of truisms. One is the simple fact that it really is difficult to read doctors’ handwriting, and the electronic system eliminates that problem. Busy physicians also have a tendency to leave out important information such as strengths or dosages, and the computerized system does not permit that kind of mistake to be made. In fact, they even issue warnings when a specific patient’s prescription doesn’t match well with their allergy profile or patient history.

That doesn’t mean that the new system is error-free. Nor, unfortunately does it mean that hospitals in the United States are jumping to sign up for the systems. Included in the list of the system’s inherent problems is the fact that if there are dropdown boxes to select from, the possibility always exists that the wrong option will be clicked – something that does not exist with a written prescription.  Software design is to blame for most of the mistakes that are made while using the system, but most can be addressed, which makes it possible to drop overall errors by an even greater percentage.  But hospitals don’t want to add the expense, and worry that their physicians will balk at learning something new. They also don’t want to endure the learning curve or software upgrades and tweaks. Still, hospitals lie Boston’s Brigham and Women’s, which adopted the system, have shown dramatic results and improved patient safety.

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Gavin P. Lentz, Esq.
Bochetto & Lentz

Gavin Lentz (right) was selected as a "Super Lawyer" for 2006-2009 and 2010-2015 in New Jersey by Philadelphia Magazine. He has also been selected as a "Super Lawyer" by Philadelphia Magazine and the Legal Intelligencer in 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011 - 2015.

On September 16, 2002 Mr. Lentz was selected as one of the top 50 lawyers in Pennsylvania by the Legal Intelligencer.

He has made many television appearances, including on Fox News, The Today Show, Inside Edition, and The Phil Donahue Show.

Mr. Lentz is a member of the American Trial Lawyers Association and the Million Dollar Advocates Forum.

As a former prosecutor, he knows how to aggressively go after large pharmacy chains to prove the facts necessary to protect your loved one's rights.

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