Computerized physician order entry has been shown to reduce medical errors over a five-year period, with no new type of errors detected, according to a new study.

The prospective analytical study, published in the Journal of Clinical Pharmacy and Therapeutics, evaluated the impact of CPOE on the number of medical errors in prescriptions issued by a hematology department at a Spanish hospital.

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The study involved three phases: a pre-implementation phase, an implementation phase, and a post-implementation phase, which was conducted five years after the CPOE system when live.

There were 150 prescriptions in the pre- and post-implementation phases, with 114 patients (pre-implementation) who were compared to 82 patients (post-implementation). Researchers found that CPOE implementation was associated with a large reduction in medical errors.

“The CPOE system almost completely eliminated medical errors with antineoplastic drugs,” concludes the study. “No new types of medical errors were observed once physicians had become accustomed to using the system.”

Nonetheless, researchers pointed out that some medical errors were not eliminated and that “constant diligence is needed to analyze and evaluate medical errors associated with the CPOE system and their causes, such that the limitations of CPOE can be identified and overcome, and the medication-use process associated with antineoplastic agents improved.”

In that regard, a January 2015 article in the journal BMJ Quality and Safety found that while CPOE systems have “long been considered and demonstrated to be a high-leverage tool for preventing medication errors,” there is a “growing awareness and increasing documentation of concerns that CPOE can also introduce or facilitate new errors.” The article states that between 2003 and 2010 more than 1 million medication errors were reported to the MEDMARX registry of adverse drug events, of which 63,040 were reported as CPOE-related.

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