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Reducing Medication Errors

Around the world, deaths from medical errors are common, people who are hospitalized face the largest risk for medical mistakes.//

Studies show in adults, adverse drug events occur in five of every 100 medication orders. A new study led by researchers at Ottawa, shows computerized systems for ordering medications can reduce the number of errors. This is in place of hand-writing the orders. They studied the pediatric population because the potential for adverse drug events is three-times more likely in children than adults.

The computerized process was used on two medical wards and compared with hand-written orders on one medical and two surgical wards. In the six years the study was conducted, 804 medication errors were discovered. There were 18 adverse drug events, resulting in nearly 180,000 additional hospital days.

Thus researchers say, "After the introduction of the computerized physician order entry (CPOE), the medication error rate was 40-percent lower on the intervention than on the control wards." They say there are definitely fewer medication errors, but they did not see a decrease in adverse drug events. The cost and effectiveness need to be studied further before this method should be adopted.

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