Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Computer systems cut down medication errors

The psychiatric unit at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore has significantly reduced medication errors by using a computerised prescription system and a new computer system for recording drug side effects. Medication errors can be caused by illegible handwriting, misinterpretation of orders, fatigue, dispensing errors and administrative mistakes. The computer programme used at Johns Hopkins includes help for doctors with drug dosages, drug allergies and drug interactions and patient monitoring. The Patient Safety Net system allows for the recording of all mistakes, no matter how small, and for follow-up, corrective action and the ability to learn from common mistakes. After the introduction of the two systems the medication error rate fell from 27.89 per 1,000 patient days in 2003 to 3.43 per 1,000 patient days in 2007.

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