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1 July 2008 e-Prescribing – Are We Ready?
Sam Mahrous
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The Institute of Medicine revealed that about 7,000 Americans are killed each year due to medication errors. This alarming number is prompting many physicians and practitioners to change their old habits of prescribing. Now we have e-prescribing! Electronic prescribing or e-prescribing, as it is very well known now, is the use of an automated data-entry system to generate electronic prescriptions. From cell phones to huge systems, physicians are always waking up to this new reality. This method of prescribing would eventually replace the current practice in writing the prescription on a paper.

Electronic or computerized prescribing systems in the practice of medicine are a change that is belated. About 90% of prescriptions in the United States are still handwritten. Instead, medications should be ordered on an electronic platform such as a handheld device that is ultimately interacting with three databases: patient drug history, scientific drug information and guideline reference, and patient-specific data (weight, laboratory). Implementing a computerized prescribing system will have a positive impact on pharmaceutical and patients outcomes.

Medication errors are a common occurrence and continue to be a problem in the health care industry. It is estimated that the annual cost of drug-related morbidity and mortality is nearly $177 billion in the US. The FDA states that there is at least one death per day and 1.3 million people are injured each year due to medication errors.

Common causes of medication errors include incorrect diagnosis, prescribing errors, drug-drug related reactions, dose miscalculations, incorrect drug administration and lack of patient education. It is clear that if a miscommunication took place due to hand written prescription, the error will amplify in the following steps in the medication dispensing and administration process.

Sam Mahrous "e-Prescribing – Are We Ready?," Journal of the Arizona-Nevada Academy of Science 40(1), 80-85, (1 July 2008).[80:EAWR]2.0.CO;2
Published: 1 July 2008

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