California study: CPOE may cut mortality

Although previous research hasn't supported the link, a new study at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford found that computerized physician order entry (CPOE) cut mortality by a whopping 20 percent, or an estimated equivalent of 36 fewer deaths over a year and a half.

"It's the lowest rate ever observed in a children's hospital," said lead author Dr. Chris Longhurst, whose findings are published in the journal Pediatrics. "It begs the question how many lives could be rescued on a national level."

Although the team attempted to control for other improvements that may have affected the results, authors noted that they couldn't say for sure that CPOE was responsible. Nonetheless, in addition to the decreased mortality, the system also helped doctors limit some unnecessary procedures such as blood transfusions, which Packard Children's Hospital had overused, according to Longhurst.

According to Longhurst, what set his study apart from previous research finding different--even opposite--results was its well-planned implementation of CPOE, which cost $50 million of the hospital's $600 million to $700 million budget. His message to the Obama Administration calling for rapid rollout of the technology was that it should be rolled out by experienced experts. "And there are only so many experts in this country," he wrote.

To learn more:
- read this Wall Street Journal Health Blog post
- check out this iHealthBeat piece
- read this Reuters article, via the Washington Post
- read this article
- read this Medscape piece (reg. req.)