E-prescribing reduces medication error rate, but increases rate of certain kinds of errors

E-prescribing medications significantly reduces the overall rate of medication errors, but increases certain types of errors, according to a study in the Journal of General Internal Medicine. 

For the study, researchers followed 17 physicians during implementation of a new e-prescribing system, and counted errors before implementation, 12 weeks after implementation, and one year after implementation.

The researchers found that the overall rate of errors was reduced from 35.7 errors per 100 prescriptions at the beginning of the study, to 21.1 errors at 12 weeks and 12.2 errors after one year.  However, they also found that the rate of directions and frequency errors increased after implementing the e-prescribing system.

(Sources: Patient Safety Monitor Alert, http://www.hcpro.com, June 1, 2011; Wall Street Journal, http://blogs.wsj.com, May 27, 2011; Journal of General Internal Medicine, May, 2011)