Doctors handwritten prescriptions could prove to be fatal

Although many Maryland residents have moved beyond handwritten communications and dictation in the workplace, the vast majority of doctors are still handwriting their prescriptions. Some of these handwritten prescriptions result in medication errors and could prove fatal for some patients if they receive the wrong medication or dosage due to a transcription error. Doctors are famous for their chicken-scratch handwriting, so why are they still doing this in the age computer technology and electronic communications?

There was a study published in 2010 led by a professor of medical informatics at the Weill Cornell Medical College, which followed prescriptions issued by physicians, physician assistants and nurse practitioners in outpatient settings. Some of these prescriptions were issued electronically, and for the first time by these providers, and some were issued by providers who used paper and pen.

The researchers found that out of 100 handwritten paper prescriptions there were 37 errors. Legibility issues were not included in these numbers because a pharmacist called the provider for clarification. Earlier, when some providers in the study were still using handwritten prescriptions, there were 88 errors regarding legibility issues per every 100 prescriptions, including some prescriptions with multiple errors.

If you compare that error rate to 7 errors out of 100 prescriptions that were issued electronically using e-prescription software you can clearly see, there is a major difference in the use of e-prescribing versus handwriting prescriptions. But only 36 percent of all prescriptions and only 30 percent of hospital prescriptions are issued electronically.

According to the Institute of Medicine, estimated costs for preventable adverse drug events in just hospital settings alone, not including outpatient doctor's offices and the like, top $2 billion annually. Presumably in medical malpractice, personal injury and wrongful death claims from patients who suffered an adverse drug event due to these errors.

Eventually the majority of hospitals and health care providers will issue drug prescriptions electronically, like Australia currently does, however until then beware of prescription errors and the dangers they pose. Don't be afraid to ask questions and be your own health care advocate to help ensure no adverse drug interactions occur in your family.

Source: The New York Times, "Chicken Scratches vs. Electronic Prescriptions," Randall Stross, April 28, 2012

No Comments

Leave a comment
Comment Information
Steven H. Dorne

Attorney Steven H. Dorne

Attorney Steven H. Dorne is an accomplished lawyer who practices in state and federal courts in Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia. He brings more than 30 years of experience and a long record of success to each case. His law practice is distinguished by careful preparation and thorough analysis of each case...

Learn More
  • Virginia Trial Lawyers Association
  • ABA
  • Trial Lawyers Association Of Metropolitan Washington D.C | Working For Justice
  • Maryland Association For Justice
  • American Association For Justice
  • MSBA

Call Or Email For A Free Consultation

If you have suffered a personal injury in a car crash or other accident, need help with another type of dispute, we are prepared to help. Contact our lawyer online or call 877-234-4179 to schedule an initial consultation. There is no cost or obligation to contact us. Se habla español. For your convenience, we have offices in Washington D.C., Rockville, Greenbelt and Fairfax.

Bold labels are required.

Contact Information
disclaimer.

The use of the Internet or this form for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be sent through this form.

close

Privacy Policy

Rockville Office
200-A Monroe St.
Suite 100
Rockville, MD 20850

Toll Free: 877-234-4179
Phone: 301-637-8078
Fax: 301-251-0730
Map & Directions

Rockville Office

Washington D.C. Office
1150 Seventeenth St. NW
Suite 305
Washington, D.C. 20036

Toll Free: 877-234-4179
Phone: 301-637-8078
Fax: 301-251-0730
Map & Directions

Washington Office

Capital Office Park
6305 Ivy Lane
Suite 408
Greenbelt, MD 20770

Toll Free: 877-234-4179
Phone: 301-637-8078
Fax: 301-251-0730
Map & Directions

Greenbelt Office

Fairfax Office
10521 Judicial Dr.
Suite 303
Fairfax, VA 22030

Toll Free: 877-234-4179
Phone: 703-722-6446
Fax: 301-251-0730
Map & Directions

Fairfax Office
  • Toll Free 877-234-4179
  • Maryland/D.C. 301-637-8078
  • Virginia 703-722-6446
  • Fax 301-251-0730
Back To Top