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.