Everyone knows the joke about doctors’ handwriting. The truth is that anyone’s handwriting can be difficult to read, and in a world of prescriptions and medical orders, bad handwriting is a risk that can be eliminated to avoid errors.
Enter electronic prescriptions or e-prescriptions – a way to reconcile a patient’s medications, among other things. Instead of handwriting a prescription, the doctor enters the information into a computer program. E-prescribing allows doctors to access a patient’s current medications, allergies and potential drug interactions. Prescriptions are sent electronically to the pharmacy or printed out, doing away with illegible writing. The patient family receives a complete list of medications and that information can be easily shared with a primary care provider.
Children’s Hospital Central California began the transition to e-prescriptions in 2006 to improve patient safety and the quality of care we provide. It allows Children’s to comply with The Joint Commission National Patient Safety Goal 8, which requires health care organizations accurately and completely reconcile medications across the continuum of care. Now all ambulatory physicians are becoming equipped to e-prescribe.
At Children’s Hospital, nurses create an electronic record of a patient’s current medications. When the physician is ready to prescribe medications, he or she can reconcile medications prior to adding a drug to a child’s treatment plan. The prescription is sent electronically to the pharmacy or printed on tamper-resistant forms. With e-prescribing, Children’s has taken another step to improve patient safety and enhance care coordination among physicians and health care providers.