Chronicle Profiles Cedars-Sinai Handwriting Course for Physicians to Curb Medication Errors
To help avoid potential medication errors caused by physicians' poor penmanship, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles has launched a "low-tech, low-cost solution" as a "stopgap" measure -- free handwriting classes, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. A recent Institute of Medicine report found that medication errors, many the result of illegible prescriptions, cause more than 7,000 deaths and millions of injuries per year in the United States. The Cedars-Sinai program, which costs under $1,000, includes a three-hour course with calligraphy and handwriting experts. According to Dr. Michael Langberg, senior vice president and chief medical officer for Cedars-Sinai Health System, 100 physicians have participated in the program, prompting the number of nursing units that called doctors to clarify orders to drop from 25 to four over a three-month period. "It's a well-known experience that you can't read a physician's handwriting," Langberg said, adding, "This is something you can do immediately and very cheaply." In addition to the handwriting program, Ceders-Sinai plans to implement a $20 million computer system that will cross reference physician orders with X-ray and lab-testing services and the pharmacy within a year. Langberg expects the system to "pay for itself" by streamlining billing and accounting and reducing medical errors (Wells, San Francisco Chronicle, 7/1).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.