Study: Prescribing errors spike with EHR upgrades

Transitioning to an upgraded electronic health record system appears more likely to lead to errors in e-prescribing than implementing one for the first time, according to a recent article published in MedPage Today.

According to two studies presented at the New York eHealth Collaborative's Digital Health Conference in New York last week, sites that previously had not used e-prescribing had an 85 percent decrease in errors once they made the switch from paper prescribing.

However, sites with experienced e-prescribers that switched to upgraded EHR systems to meet Meaningful Use showed a "sharp increase" in the rate of prescribing errors. The error rate jumped from a baseline of 8.6 errors per 100 prescriptions to 18 errors after three months, and 10.9 errors after one year. It was only after the e-prescribers had been using the new systems for two years that the error rate dropped to 3.8, below the baseline.

The panelists who conducted the studies--Drs. Lisa Kern and Erika Abramson--both are professors at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York.

Productivity and efficiency both suffered "much longer than anticipated" during the periods of increased errors, according to Abramson, but that perception improved with time.

To learn more:
- read the MedPage Today article
- here's the New York eHealth Collaborative website