Background: 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.
Objective: To evaluate the impact of vendor CPOE systems on the frequency of ADEs.
Design and patients: 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.
Main measures: The primary outcome measure was the rate of preventable ADEs. Rates of potential ADEs and overall ADEs were secondary outcomes.
Key results: 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).
Conclusions: 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.