Computerized Prescription Ordering Can Help Hospitals Prevent Medication Errors

Promoting patient safety through health care purchasing tools

The Leapfrog Group: (1) developed standards for evaluating hospitals' use of computerized physician order entry systems; and (2) devised and tested techniques to raise awareness among enrollees in employer-sponsored health plans about the importance of considering the presence of systems to reduce preventable errors when choosing a hospital, and other medical safety issues.

Key Results

  • During the course of the grant, the project team:

    • Developed standards and a methodology for evaluating the effectiveness of individual hospitals' computerized physician order entry systems.
    • Designed a Web site to present information on specific hospitals' adherence to the Leapfrog Group's safety standards.
    • Created an enrollee communications tool kit that employers can use to raise awareness among employees and other enrollees about the importance of considering the presence of systems to reduce preventable errors when choosing a hospital and other medical safety issues.
    • Created a guide to selecting vendors of computerized prescription ordering systems.

Key Findings

  • FAACT reported these findings from the focus groups it conducted:

    • Participants revealed a strong reliance on doctors to make decisions about choosing a hospital in non-emergency situations.
    • Participants perceived employers as a convenient and unbiased source of information about patient safety and which hospitals have implemented recommended safety practices.
    • Participants reacted enthusiastically to the idea of having access to a hospital report card and other related information.

    The tool kit was disseminated to all Leapfrog Group member companies and is available on the Leapfrog Group's website.