, Volume 8, Issue 11, pp 821-825

Impact of computerised chemotherapy prescriptions on the prevention of medication errors

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Abstract

Objectives

The authors sought to evaluate the impact of computerised chemotherapy prescription on the reduction of medication errors. The purpose of this study was to assess the incidence of errors present in electronic versus manual prescription.

Material and methods

The data gathered from computerised chemotherapy prescription sheets were submitted to a prospective analysis as cases of the intervention groups. The control group was comprised of the handwritten chemotherapy prescription sheets. Chemotherapy prescriptions for consecutive oncology patients were analysed by 2 independent examiners, who investigated errors of omission, commission, interpretation of dates, abbreviations and illegible handwriting. The proportion of treatment prescriptions containing one or more errors and the median of errors were calculated in order in both groups.

Results

At least one error was detected in 100% of the manual prescriptions and in 13% of computerised prescriptions (p<0.001). The median of errors per computerised prescription was 0 (range: 0–1), whereas in manual prescriptions the median was 5 (range: 1–12) (p<0.001). Errors of omission were predominant in manual prescriptions. Errors of commission were limited to 1 case of unjustified cytostatic agent infra-dosage in a computerised prescription. This error was prescnt in 3 cases in hand-written prescriptions and, in addition, 1 case of premedication drug substitution was detected. Errors of interpretation of the date, use of abbreviations and illegible handwriting were frequent among manual prescriptions and were absent from computerised prescriptions.

Conclusions

Electronic chemotherapy prescription is a powerful tool. In this study it has been shown to decrease chemotherapy-related medication errors and ensure that safe chemotherapy practices were followed.