Health IT helps cut psychiatric medication mix-ups

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted April 4, 2011

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A hospital psychiatric ward dramatically reduced its medication error rate after implementing electronic prescribing and an electronic adverse event-reporting system, according to a study in the March Journal of Psychiatric Practice (link).

The 88-bed psychiatric unit at the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Maryland cut its medication error rate from 27.89 per 1,000 patient days to 3.43 per 1,000 patient days from 2003 to 2007, the study said. There were no drug mistakes causing death or permanent patient harm during the study period, which covered more than 65,000 patient days and nearly 620,000 drug doses.

The electronic prescribing system helped avoid mistakes due to illegible handwriting and helped doctors and other health professionals spot potentially harmful drug interactions. The hospitalwide reporting system made it easy for doctors and others to use a Web-based portal to report mistakes and unsafe conditions that needed follow-up.

Note: This item originally appeared at

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