Objective: This study sets out to identify, compare and evaluate the medication errors of a manual prescribing system and an electronic prescribing system during the prescription and transcription phases.
Method: A prospective study of two clinical in-patient units (pneumology and infectious diseases) in one general hospital. Two phases were studied; before and after an electronic prescribing system was implemented. Each phase lasted one month. A comparative analysis was carried out of the medication errors in the medical prescription process, the transcription process and the administration recording process carried out by nursing staff as well as the pharmacist s transcriptions/validations.
Results: A total of 3,908 patient treatment errors and 129 patient identification errors were detected during both of the periods studied. The rate of errors in patient identification or treatment orders using the manual prescribing system was 14.4 against 1.3% after the electronic system was implemented. The relative risk reduction for infectious diseases and pneumology was 100 and 85.44%, respectively (statistically significant). In general, relative risk reduction was achieved in both units, oscillating between 78.91 and 100%. The absolute risk reduction oscillated between 5.09 and 30.45% for errors in drug data, doses, frequency/time and route of administration. These results were statistically significant.
Conclusions: The electronic prescribing system has reduced errors in the identification, prescription and transcription of pharmacological treatment and has consequently helped to improve the quality and safety of drug treatment received by patients.