Journal of General Internal Medicine

, Volume 27, Issue 7, pp 801–807 | Cite as

Impact of Vendor Computerized Physician Order Entry in Community Hospitals

  • Alexander A. Leung
  • Carol Keohane
  • Mary Amato
  • Steven R. Simon
  • Michael Coffey
  • Nathan Kaufman
  • Bismarck Cadet
  • Gordon Schiff
  • Eyal Zimlichman
  • Diane L. Seger
  • Catherine Yoon
  • Peter Song
  • David W. BatesEmail author
Original Research



It is uncertain if computerized physician order entry (CPOE) systems are effective at reducing adverse drug event (ADE) rates in community hospitals, where mainly vendor-developed applications are used.


To evaluate the impact of vendor CPOE systems on the frequency of ADEs.


Prospective before-and-after study conducted from January 2005 to September 2010 at five Massachusetts community hospitals. Participants were adults admitted during the study period. A total of 2,000 charts were reviewed for orders, medication lists, laboratory reports, admission histories, notes, discharge summaries, and flow sheets.


The primary outcome measure was the rate of preventable ADEs. Rates of potential ADEs and overall ADEs were secondary outcomes.


The rate of preventable ADEs decreased following implementation (10.6/100 vs. 7.0/100 admissions; p = 0.007) with a similar effect observed at each site. However, the associated decrease in preventable ADEs was balanced against an increase in potential ADEs (44.4/100 vs. 57.5/100 admissions; p < 0.001). We observed a reduction of 34.0% for preventable ADEs, but an increase of 29.5% in potential ADEs following implementation. The overall rate of ADEs increased (14.6/100 vs. 18.7/100 admissions; p = 0.03), which was driven by non-preventable events (4.0/100 vs. 11.7/100 admissions; p < 0.001).


Adoption of vendor CPOE systems was associated with a decrease in the preventable ADE rate by a third, although the rates of potential ADEs and overall ADEs increased. Our findings support the use of vendor CPOE systems as a means to reduce drug-related injury and harm. The potential ADE rate could be reduced by making refinements to the vendor applications and their associated decision support.


medication safety adverse drug events unintended consequences 



The Rx Foundation and Commonwealth Fund supported the study. They commented on its design, but were not involved in data collection, data management, analysis, interpretation, or writing of the manuscript. We thank Kathy Zigmont, RN, and Cathy Foskett, RN, for the chart review and data collection at the participating study sites.

Conflict of Interests and Disclosures

Dr. Bates is a coinventor on patent no. 6029138 held by Brigham and Women’s Hospital on the use of decision support software for medical management, licensed to the Medicalis Corporation. He holds a minority equity position in the privately held company Medicalis, which develops web-based decision support for radiology test ordering, and has served as a consultant to Medicalis. He serves on the board for SEA Medical Systems, which makes intravenous pump technology. He serves as an advisor to Calgary Scientific, which makes technologies that enable mobility within electronic health records. He is on the clinical advisory board for Zynx, Inc., which develops evidence-based algorithms, and Patient Safety Systems, which provides a set of approaches to help hospitals improve safety. He consults for Hearst, which develops knowledge resources. He previously served on the board of Care Management International, which is involved in chronic disease management. Dr. Leung is supported by a Clinical Fellowship Award from Alberta Innovates Health Solutions and by a Fellowship Award from the Canadian Institutes for Health Research. He also receives support from the John A. Buchanan Research Chair in General Internal Medicine.

Supplementary material

11606_2012_1987_MOESM1_ESM.doc (98 kb)
ESM 1 (DOC 98 kb)


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Copyright information

© Society of General Internal Medicine 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alexander A. Leung
    • 1
  • Carol Keohane
    • 1
  • Mary Amato
    • 1
    • 2
  • Steven R. Simon
    • 1
  • Michael Coffey
    • 4
  • Nathan Kaufman
    • 4
  • Bismarck Cadet
    • 3
  • Gordon Schiff
    • 1
  • Eyal Zimlichman
    • 1
  • Diane L. Seger
    • 1
  • Catherine Yoon
    • 1
  • Peter Song
    • 1
  • David W. Bates
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Division of General Internal Medicine and Primary CareBrigham and Women’s HospitalBostonUSA
  2. 2.Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health SciencesBostonUSA
  3. 3.New England Medical SpecialistsNorth AndoverUSA
  4. 4.Partners Community Healthcare, Inc.BostonUSA

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