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    E-Prescribing: The end of prescription errors? Hardly

    Electronic prescribing (e-Rxs) was supposed to be the savior of pharmacy. Things haven’t quite worked out that way.

    I have come to the conclusion that in the minds of practitioners —whether MDs, DDSs, NPs, PAs, etc. — the least important thing they do is to issue prescriptions to patients.

    For years, everyone in pharmacy has been saying that we must eliminate written prescriptions, because practitioners’ handwriting is so poor that it causes pharmacists to misread prescriptions, which leads to prescription errors. We were told that what we needed was electronic prescriptions, which would eliminate the confusion and time wasted when pharmacists have to call prescribers after trying and failing to interpret badly written prescriptions.

    Well, we’ve got the e-Rxs. And boy, they were dead wrong about elimination of calls to prescribers.

    While all e-Rxs are now readable, a staggering number of the e-Rxs that a retail pharmacy sees on a daily basis still necessitate a call to the prescriber for some sort of clarification. Questions arise, such as, what drug did the prescriber want dispensed? What are the correct directions for use? Which of the two or three sets of directions on the Rx are correct? What is the correct quantity of medication to be dispensed? How many days’ supply of the Rx is correct?

    In order to bill the insurance company accurately, we need to know.


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    • JoeBock
      Have a system in place where we can send the e-script back to physician saying the script in unfillable as it stands. Right now as it stands it only goes one way.. Why can't we send them back to recipient with notes on them ??! We waste so much time on the phones leaving messages , being put on hold, taking to 3 different people etc
    • DougBennett
      I just get steamed when I receive and fill and RX only to be told that it was also sent somewhere else and I need to back it out. Another 30 cents wasted on transmission charges plus a couple of buck for labor. Oh, that was more than I would have made on the prescription to begin with.
    • Anonymous
      Errors have not been eliminated, but the question has changed. We used to ask, "What does that say?" and now we ask, "What did he/she mean?"
    • Anonymous
      All e-prescribing has done is give pharmacist a false sense of security. Study after study has shown e-prescribing to have as many, if not more, errors than manually written prescriptions.
    • Anonymous
      You know, we pharmacists do own this process. After all, we get charged by Surescripts for each e-script that comes our way. Too bad we can't all gang up (that ol' antitrust thing) and refuse as a profession to accept these pieces of junk until the software standards are tightened up to keep the above mentioned errors from happening.
    • WilliamSchweitzer
      Could not agree more. Like Obamacare, E-prescribing is a system rushed to market without attempting to identify and fix problems first.