WHAT IS ALREADY KNOWN ABOUT THIS SUBJECT
• Electronic prescribing reduces drug prescription errors and therefore improves patient safety.
• Whether electronic prescribing compared with prescribing on paper facilitates the implementation of clinical pharmacologists' recommendations in the care of patients hospitalized with medical problems is not known.
WHAT THIS STUDY ADDS
• The use of electronic prescriptions when compared with handwritten prescriptions increased the uptake of clinical pharmacologists' recommendations for improving drug safety in hospitalized patients.
AIMS To determine whether electronic prescribing facilitates the uptake of clinical pharmacologists' recommendations for improving drug safety in medical inpatients.
METHODS Electronic case records and prescription charts (either electronic or paper) of 502 patients hospitalized on medical wards in a large Swiss teaching hospital between January 2009 and January 2010 were studied by four junior and four senior clinical pharmacologists. Drug-related problems were identified and interventions proposed. The implementation and time delays of these proposed interventions were compared between the patients for whom paper drug charts were used and the patients for whom electronic drug charts were used.
RESULTS One hundred and fifty-eight drug-related problems in 109 hospital admissions were identified and 145 recommendations were made, of which 51% were implemented. Admissions with an electronic prescription chart (n= 90) were found to have 2.74 times higher odds for implementation of the change than those with a paper prescription chart (n= 53) (95% confidence interval 1.2, 6.3, P= 0.018, adjusted for any dependency introduced by patient, ward or clinical team; follow-up for two cases missing). The time delay between recommendations being made and their implementation (if any) was minimal (median 1 day) and did not differ between the two groups.
CONCLUSIONS Electronic prescribing in this hospital setting was associated with increased implementation of clinical pharmacologists' recommendations for improving drug safety when compared with handwritten prescribing on paper.