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Hospital finds way to reduce medication errors by 60 percent

Medication errors can cause serious illnesses and injuries. There are many things that can go wrong to result in a dangerous medication error in New Mexico hospitals. A nurse that is administering a medication might not be able to properly make out a doctor's handwriting, and this can lead to a dosage error or even the delivery of the wrong medication. In other cases the delivery of medication is delayed for one reason or another, or medications are mixed up and given to the wrong patients. Many of these errors stem from problems with handwritten charts and orders.

One hospital in Kansas has recently switched to an electronic system for physician orders, and this has greatly reduced the instance of medication errors. In fact, medication errors are down by about 60 percent since the system was put into place about one year ago.

The electronic system not only puts a stop to legibility issues, but it also prevents transcription errors--when orders are rewritten onto new charts, etc. The system also helps with promptness, as it allows orders to transfer between staff and care providers very quickly. The pharmacy manager at this hospital reports that medication orders are now being completed about 40 percent faster than with the old pen and paper system.

In this day and age, many people might assume that hospitals and clinics already use software programs for prescription ordering and medical charts. However, many health care facilities are still doing these things the old-fashioned way, although in recent years some have switched to digital systems. Hopefully as more and more health care facilities move to computer-based systems, patient safety will improve.

There are many potential causes for medication errors, including various forms of medical malpractice. Those who have suffered from a medication error may benefit from talking to a medical malpractice attorney about their options.

Source: The Wichita Eagle, "Electronic system helps Wesley reduce medication errors," Kelsey Ryan, June 16, 2014

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