Study: CPOE Systems Effective in Reducing Medication Errors

February 25, 2013
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According to a new research study, computerized provider order entry (CPOE) systems are effective in reducing the frequency of medication errors in inpatient acute-care settings. The 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 using data from the American Hospital Association (AHA) Annual Survey and the Electronic Health Record Adoption Database.

The researchers, led by David C. Radley, Ph.D., who is a senior analyst and project director for The Commonwealth Fund Health System Scorecard and Research Project, a grant-funded position located at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, discovered that processing a prescription drug order through a CPOE system decreases the likelihood of error on that order by 48 percent.  “Given this effect size, and the degree of CPOE adoption and use in hospitals in 2008, we estimate a 12.5 percent reduction in medication errors, or ∼17.4 million medication errors averted in the USA in 1 year,” the authors wrote.

Overall, the researchers said that despite their findings, it’s unclear whether this translates into reduced harm for patients. Also, they mentioned that adoption in US hospitals remain modest. Still, they say “Current policies to increase CPOE adoption and use will likely prevent millions of additional medication errors each year.”

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