January 20, 2006

Electronic prescription study lands award

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photo by Anne Rayner

Electronic prescription study lands award

Researchers at the Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt have received an award for a study regarding using decision support programming in the Pediatric Critical Care Unit (PCCU) to reduce errors in electronic prescriptions.

The Clinical Pharmacy and Pharmacology Specialty Award was presented to one of the study authors, Lori Wright, Pharm.D., clinical coordinator of the VCH Pharmacy, at the Society of Critical Care Medicine Conference in San Francisco. Wright also presented the study, titled “Impact of Patient-Specific Decision Support on Medication Errors in Critically Ill Children,” at the conference.

The study was a follow-up to a 2003 study that determined computer prescription ordering (WizOrder) would dramatically reduce medication errors. The earlier study found that medication errors were reduced by 95 percent, and was published in the journal Pediatrics.

The follow-up study looked at whether implementing “decision support” would further reduce some medication errors, especially inappropriate doses and intervals.

The study, done in the PCCU, found that when programming was added in the ordering process with more information about the patient (such as age and weight), errors were reduced by 70 percent.

In patients younger than 7 days old, the study found an 85 percent reduction in errors.

“This work is really multi-disciplinary in nature,” Wright said. “Actually studying electronic prescription orders and the decision support program, and making sure we are achieving the best outcome for the patients, is very important.”

The other study authors were Rick Barr, M.D., co-medical director of PCCU; David Gregory, administrative director for Clinical Support Services at Children's Hospital; Neal Patel, M.D., co-medical director of PCCU; and Russ Waitman, Ph.D., assistant professor of Biomedical Informatics.

Currently, decision support programming is being used in both the neonatal and pediatric critical care units and in the Pediatric Emergency Department. Wright hopes that within the next year it will be implemented throughout Children's Hospital.