Coupling an electronic prescription drug ordering system with a computerized method for reporting adverse events can dramatically reduce the number of medication errors in a hospital's psychiatric unit, suggests new Johns Hopkins research.
The findings, published in the March issue of The Journal of Psychiatric Practice, outline how the 88-bed psychiatric unit at The Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore went from a medication error rate of 27.89 per 1,000 patient days in 2003 to 3.43 per 1,000 patient days in 2007, a highly significant rate reduction.
The study noted that during the study period, there were no medication errors that caused death or serious, permanent harm. Medication errors, which can be lethal, are known to be caused by illegible handwriting, misinterpretation of orders, fatigue on the part of medical personnel, pharmacy dispensing errors and administration mistakes. A pharmacy may misread what a physician has written or give the wrong medication or the wrong drug dose to a patient.