Background: Errors involving medication use are common. Computerized physician order entry (CPOE) can improve prescribing practices. Few studies have examined the effect of CPOE in combination with decision support tools on prescribing practices in the outpatient setting. Less is known about prescribers' adherence to laboratory monitoring recommendations.
Objective: To evaluate if reminders presented during CPOE for medications would increase physicians' compliance with guidelines for laboratory monitoring at initiation of therapy.
Study design: Randomized prospective intervention study.
Methods: Two hundred seven primary care physicians in a group-model managed care organization were randomized to receive or not receive drug laboratory monitoring alerts within the CPOE system. Adherence to laboratory monitoring recommendations for patients prescribed selected medications was compared between physician groups.
Results: There was no significant difference between the control and intervention group physicians in the overall rate of compliance with ordering the recommended laboratory monitoring for patients prescribed study medications. Laboratory monitoring was performed as recommended 56.6% of the time in the intervention group compared with 57.1% of the time in the control group (P = .31). In cases in which a statistically significant difference was demonstrated, improved compliance favored the intervention group (eg, 71.2% vs 62.3% [P = .003] for gemfibrozil and 75.7% vs 73.9% [P = .05] for statins).
Conclusions: As CPOE becomes more prevalent, additional research is needed to determine effective decision support tools. These findings then should be communicated to the developers and users of computerized medical record systems.