Computers Prevent, Reduce Medication Errors, AHRQ Report Finds
A new reportby the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality has found that using computers to prescribe drugs could cut medication errors by more than two-thirds, the AP/Arizona Republic reports. According to the report, released yesterday, "[r]egular computer tracking" of prescription dosages could reduce errors by 28% to 95% and "putting prescriptions into a computer system in the first place has the potential to prevent up to 84% of dosage mistakes." The AP/Republic reports that the Defense Department, with 170 veterans' hospitals is currently the "chief user" of computers, but only about 5% of civilian hospitals are investing in such systems. It would cost a 200-bed facility between $1 million and $2 million for a "start-up" a computer system. Susan Comfort, a spokesperson for HHS, said, "It's costly, but look at what the benefits are" (AP/Arizona Republic, 4/12). The report estimated that medication errors cost between $1.56 billion and $5.6 billion in "extra" expenses -- usually from treatment a patient requires after a medical mistake (AP/Richmond Times-Dispatch, 4/12). The study is available by calling 800-358-9295.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.