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We measure what is measurable - but what of other categories of error?

Posted by sunilbhopal on 06 Feb 2012 at 05:40 GMT

Having prescribed on both the traditional paper chart, and one of the e-prescribing systems described in the paper, I read this with interest. The aim of the paper is to find errors - and the authors provide convincing evidence of what they term 'procedural' and 'clinical' errors. However, discussions with frustrated e-prescriber-colleagues, over many months, reveals that whilst these measurable error-rates decrease, others types of error spring up commonly, and probably unexpectedly.

One example is antibiotics with 'stop-dates', that stop without giving indication to the prescriber that they are no longer active - or "as needed" medications that a nurse may not be able to give because of incorrect prescribing. Other errors include drugs not appearing on a drug chart, despite the prescriber believing them to be prescribed.

These things are difficult to measure and I wonder if the conclusion that (I paraphrase) 'e-prescribing leads to reduction in error rates' may require more work to fully substantiate.

No competing interests declared.