, Volume 25, Issue 6, pp 530-536
Date: 26 Feb 2010

Electronic Prescribing Improves Medication Safety in Community-Based Office Practices

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Although electronic prescribing (e-prescribing) holds promise for preventing prescription errors in the ambulatory setting, research on its effectiveness is inconclusive.


To assess the impact of a stand-alone e-prescribing system on the rates and types of ambulatory prescribing errors.


Prospective, non-randomized study using pre-post design of 15 providers who adopted e-prescribing with concurrent controls of 15 paper-based providers from September 2005 through June 2007.


Use of a commercial, stand-alone e-prescribing system with clinical decision support including dosing recommendations and checks for drug-allergy interactions, drug-drug interactions, and duplicate therapies.


Prescribing errors were identified by a standardized prescription and chart review.


We analyzed 3684 paper-based prescriptions at baseline and 3848 paper-based and electronic prescriptions at one year of follow-up. For e-prescribing adopters, error rates decreased nearly sevenfold, from 42.5 per 100 prescriptions (95% confidence interval (CI), 36.7–49.3) at baseline to 6.6 per 100 prescriptions (95% CI, 5.1–8.3) one year after adoption (p < 0.001). For non-adopters, error rates remained high at 37.3 per 100 prescriptions (95% CI, 27.6–50.2) at baseline and 38.4 per 100 prescriptions (95% CI, 27.4–53.9) at one year (p = 0.54). At one year, the error rate for e-prescribing adopters was significantly lower than for non-adopters (p < 0.001). Illegibility errors were very high at baseline and were completely eliminated by e-prescribing (87.6 per 100 prescriptions at baseline for e-prescribing adopters, 0 at one year).


Prescribing errors may occur much more frequently in community-based practices than previously reported. Our preliminary findings suggest that stand-alone e-prescribing with clinical decision support may significantly improve ambulatory medication safety.


ClinicalTrials.gov, Taconic Health Information Network and Community (THINC), NCT00225563, http://​clinicaltrials.​gov/​ct2/​show/​NCT00225563?​term=​Kaushal&​rank=​6.