E-prescribing requires caution: professor

Electronic medication management offers ease of use – but mistakes may slip through if not approached with caution

Research has shown that the use of electronic prescribing reduces common medication errors and improves the quality of prescribing.

However Professor of Clinical Pharmacology Sepehr Shakib, from the University of Adelaide, warns that such electronic systems also present concerns if not used with caution and proper training.

For example, he argues there is evidence that override rates for interaction alerts are very high, resulting in alert fatigue.

“As electronic prescribing becomes more intelligent and enables more prescribing checking, the prescriber may unconsciously make assumptions about what the system is and is not going to alert them about, and hence not check themselves,” says Professor Shakib.

“This is particularly relevant in our current climate as many clinicians are coming to electronic prescribing for the first time and have not had specific education about it in their undergraduate curriculum… and may not be as attentive to the active decision support offered by the system.”

Professor Shakib says young clinicians may also be distracted figuring out aspects of the system’s interface and workflows for the first time.

He suggests embracing electronic prescribing where there is evidence, but also approaching such systems with caution where the evidence is limited.

See the full editorial here.

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