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Hospital Software May Not Flag Unsafe Drug Prescriptions

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Hospital software may not be able to flag unsafe drug prescriptions, a new report has found. This is because not all hospitals appear to implement computerized physician order entry (CPOE) systems during patients' hospital admissions. Even institutions that already have CPOE systems may need their staff to double-or triple-check orders to ensure safety.

Almost all hospitals surveyed by Leapfrog Group had already started practicing documentation of patient medications during admission as well as sharing of updated medication list to patients and carers upon discharge. However, not all facilities are able to sustain adherence to this process.

The risk of unsafe drug prescriptions continues to be present as about 39 percent of hazardous orders were not flagged by CPOE systems to warn staff of possible medication errors. The authors also found that the percentage of potentially deadly orders not flagged by the system was 13 percent.

"CPOE systems have done a remarkable job in reducing the likelihood of medication errors, but mistakes are still seen with far too much frequency," says Leah Binder, Leapfrog's CEO.

CPOE Systems Across States

CPOE is any system that involves directly inputting medication orders by medical staff to a computer software, which in turn, transmits that order to the pharmacy department.

For the Leapfrog standard, a hospital CPOE system must be able to alert doctors to at least 50 percent of typical and serious prescribing errors and facilitate at least 75 percent of all orders.

The use of CPOE based on this standard is not the same across all states. The state with the lowest percentage of compliance is Indiana with 25 percent, followed by Nevada with 35 percent. There are five other states that scored lower than the 50 percent mark.

Conversely, the states with the most satisfactory compliance include Maine with 85 percent, Georgia with 83 percent and New York with 81 percent. There are eight more states that had a score higher than 75 percent.

Almost There But Not Quite

In the collation of data, hospitals were asked to report the presence of efforts geared toward implementing policies and protocols that can reduce adverse effects of drugs. Out of the hospitals surveyed, 62 percent said that they perform all recommended medication reconciliation interventions.

Worthy to note, however, that only 88 percent of the facilities give time and designate staff time and budget to develop best practices. Aside from that, only 84 percent of hospitals pointed to their senior administration leadership as the responsible party for these processes via performance evaluation of compensation.

Bad Practices, Huge Costs

Binder says hospitals stash million to implement CPOE systems, but the findings clearly exhibited that many of these systems do not function how they should be, thereby risk patient lives.

Without these systems, Castlight Health's Kristin Torres Mowat says patients may face the risk of suffering from adverse drug reactions, which can lead to longer stays in the hospitals and estimated additional increase of $3,000 per patient in medical expenses costs.

Castlight Health is the health information company based in San Francisco, which conducted the analyses for the data of this study.

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