Sydney health researchers are calling for the rapid implementation of electronic prescriptions in the country’s hospitals, to try and cut the rate of errors resulting from doctors’ poor handwriting. According to Johanna Westbrook, director of health systems and safety research at the University of New South Wales’ Australian …
Tyops not a problem then?
What would perhaps be more interesting than just slapping on some electronic-y system to make this go is to figure out why docters' handwriting is so poor it's become a byword.
Also because a computer system is more complex; suppose it fails and they go back to hand-writing, what're the failure rates then, with apothecaries lacking the practice no longer able to read prescriptions at all? Resiliency and fall-back are somewhat important here.
Further there's a lot of stupidity and mindless red tape in medicine simply because getting things wrong can be so costly (in terms of lives, say), and writing the prescription is but a small part of that. So there's lots of rules and things set in stone, plenty of which could perhaps use some lightening up. What's happening there, or is this more of a one trick pony type endeavour?
As stated the problem is not really the handwritting but mistakes in interactions which is don't give drug A alongside drug B (or to a person with condition C) otherwise your head explodes.
This is tricky because the BNF which is the book of drugs changes each year and is the size of a small dictionary so is a little tricky to memorise. It's not helped by the fact that the majority of prescribing is done by junior doctors who both have little experience and under the current NHS system move hospitals and jobs every 4 months so just as they are getting a little more expert the prescribing practices and type of drugs they are prescribing changes.
Sounds like an excellent idea!
A while back I had a prescription which neither the Pharmacist nor anyone else could actually decipher and they had to phone up the doctor's surgery to find out what was actually prescribed!
Now they just need a system that can deal with typos...
Why oh why is doctor's handwritting so universally poor?
Is it a compulsory subject in first year medicine?
Handwritting 101: How to ensure that your handwritting is totally illegible.
I see a wonderful opportunity
To make it "more helpful", you know, like search bar suggestions that never ever cause you to search for something you didn't want to, nosiree, but now for prescriptions. And of course no pharmaceutical company would ever think of subtly biasing these helpful medicine suggestions just like the big search giants would never ever do that to an unsuspecting public. Right? I can see the future is bright, alright.
My friendly doc (no serisouly I actually like them) already uses an electronic patient record system that prints out the prescription (as well as recording on my record so they can later check).
As you suspect the only drugs that are listed in the search are ones that are in the helpful drug companies database. For any of the drugs that come from "the other drug companies" they have to fall back to writting out a prescription by hand. And of course it won't print a prescription for the "generic" name. No sir, must be for the more expensive brandname owned by the drug company.
UK GPs only rarely use handwritten prescriptions. They use a computerised clinical system with all the medicines which are prescribable in the BNF (British national Formulary). No interference by drug companies. There are alerts on individual's drug sensitivities and potential drug interactions from the electronic patient record. With my commonly used clical system we see a list of serious potential unwanted effects for each medicine and we can see the prices from different pharmaceutical companies as we prescribe. We also have an add-on called scriptswitch installed by the PCT. It suggests cheaper alternatives to a range of commonly prescribed medicines with the option to override. All in all it works rather well for safe and cost effective prescribing. I think this is the rule in the UK
I wish I could understand my GP's (Indian) accent!
Don't do it.
I used to work for a company that did medical software, this supported electronic prescriptions. When testing a change at one surgery I was having a laugh with one of the other techies and inserted a message below the drug details "All women aged 18-30 please call <mobile num> for a good time”. A few scripts were printed and a good laugh was had, then the message was deleted, but due to a bug in the software over 1500 *real* prescriptions were printed with my message.
First I knew of the problem was when some irate boyfriend called my mobile about a month later, things then escalated and I got a call from some incident response team who I politely told to go forth and multiply. All scripts had to be signed off by a doctor who had not even bothered to checking the script before signing and if they wanted to pursue the issue I would be happy to give statements to that effect to local press and anybody else who was interested. Funny thing is I never heard anything else about it.
So my advice would be not to automate as it makes doctors lazy, handing out prescriptions has great responsibilities and human safeguards can easily be ignored or bypassed.
An old "Two Ronnies - But now the news" skit
A large group of doctors demonstrated outside parliament today, waving handmade placards and signs. Unfortunately, no-one could read these except for a passing pharmacist, who told them to come back in half an hour.
Yes thanks, mine's the white lab coat with the "Two Ronnies" in the pocket. DVD
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