Computerized systems to reduce medication errors on the rise

| May 12, 2015 | Medication Errors

Patients entering hospitals in New Mexico might benefit from the rising use of computerized physician order entry systems designed to reduce medication errors. A report from the Leapfrog Group that assesses medication software found that 1,339 hospitals had added the systems in 2014 compared to only 384 in 2010. Among hospitals that had added the system, 59 percent of them used it to assign medication to at least 75 percent of patients.

The computerized system seeks to eliminate medication errors caused by unclear handwriting. The report stated that the overwhelming majority, about 90 percent, of errors happened because of handwritten prescriptions. The computerized system eliminates handwritten communication and also alerts physicians to drug interactions and allergy warnings.

According to the Leapfrog Group report, drug interactions, incorrect doses, incorrect drugs and allergic reactions cost over $4,000 per error because of longer hospital stays from complications. Sometimes, these errors are deadly. Although Leapfrog’s assessment of the software indicated progress, improvements were still recommended because sometimes the system did not alert physicians to potentially serious errors.

Computerized systems aid health workers by sparing them the task of deciphering handwriting, but the complex nature of pharmaceuticals continues to contribute to errors. Someone who suffered from a medication error such as a wrong dose or wrong medicine could choose to make a personal injury claim. Discussing the matter with an attorney familiar with medical issues could help the person evaluate the potential for a lawsuit to succeed. If the evidence supports a personal injury claim, then an attorney could prepare the lawsuit and negotiate with the healthcare provider or insurance company for a settlement. Damages such as medical bills and lost income could be recovered if the claim succeeds either in or out of court.

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