E-Prescriptions: Reducing Medication Errors

by ShelbyW on May 25, 2013

The digital age has made e-mail and texting the preferred method of written communication. However, one area where handwriting has persisted until recently has been for medical prescriptions. This is very unfortunate, since inappropriate directions and sloppy writing has led to what are known in the medical industry as preventable adverse drug events. While some of these instances are minor, it has still caused problems that have exacerbated a patient’s ills, sometimes even causing their death.

Treatment Delays

One of the more troubling aspects of illegible or confusing written prescriptions is the delay of treatment for many patients. When prescriptions require time to sort them out with providers, the delay can result in patient harm when they are unable to get urgently needed medication. Not are patients inconvenienced, but they are made more vulnerable to further medical complications.


The new technology of e-prescriptions aims to change the estimated 37 errors for each 100 paper prescriptions that regularly occur. Also, these mistakes do not include legibility issues, when pharmacists are unable to read a doctor’s handwriting properly and need to call a medical provider to clarify. Nearly as many as 88 legibility errors per 100 prescriptions are estimated and many prescriptions have over one mistake.

This is a stark contrast to the 7 out of 100 errors for prescriptions issued through e-prescribing software. Studies have shown that errors are far less likely to occur when doctors click to select medications from onscreen lists and send prescription data through a computer to a pharmacy. Also, the fact that there is a record of what was prescribed gives essential medical record access to other key health care personnel.


Hospital settings have been found to have paper error rates on average for around 5 per 100 prescriptions. While most mistakes are not serious, around 7 percent typically have had a great potential for harm. Studies have indicated that the estimated annual costs for prescription errors in hospitals run to around $2 billion in the country.

Treatment for Mistakes

Anyone who has been a victim of a medication error should seek medical treatment at a different medical facility, preferably with a specialist, as soon as possible. Unfortunately, states that, “Medication errors cause 1.5 million preventable Adverse Drug Events (ADE) and lead to 7,000 deaths each year.”

Patients who have suffered due to this medical error will need proper counsel with a dedicated advocate. Therefore, people or loved ones of someone who became injured as a result of a medication error should speak with a personal injury attorney as soon as possible. A qualified lawyer will help them recover the maximum compensation possible for their injuries or wrongful death caused by this form of negligent medical care.

Medication Errors

Below are some of the issues related to medication errors that can cause serious harm and even death to patients. Essentially, failing to administer medication correctly occurs when:

1. The incorrect medicine is prescribed
2. The wrong amount of medication is prescribed
3. Allergies and intolerance are not detected

Despite the success of e-prescriptions, it is estimated that only around 36 percent of all prescriptions have been delivered electronically in the nation over the past year. Therefore, until more medical facilities adopt e-prescription standards, there remains a high possibility that at some point, a person prescribed medicine will encounter an error. This is why it is estimated that mistakes with prescription medicines account for around one quarter of all medical malpractice cases.

Legal researcher Shelby Warden feels these errors can be avoided and hopes to raise awareness of the benefits for patients when doctors use this new technology. There is much more information about medical errors at Their skilled medical malpractice lawyers provide sound legal advice and will help victims obtain the compensation they deserve.

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