Internet Prescriptions

Written by Patricia Tunstall
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National polls indicate that 61 percent of Americans are very concerned about being given the wrong medication. Their apprehension is based on real life experiences: 42 percent of the polled Americans had been affected by medical error either directly through personal incidents, or indirectly through events that befell a relative or friend. When you consider how many millions of prescriptions are written every year, you realize how large a number this 61 percent encompasses.

The Safety of Internet Prescriptions

In fact, studies show that around 7,000 patients die annually from medication errors alone. Add to this adverse drug events and medical errors in hospitals, and Americans would do well to scrutinize their healthcare plan, institution, and providers to ensure they adhere to the highest standard of care. Probably few patients realize, however, that the old-fashioned, handwritten prescription may be one of the prime sources of errors.

That physicians' handwriting is frequently illegible is a given. This phenomenon is so commonplace that it has become a running joke; it is a part of our national common knowledge. However, few question a critical medical step--prescribing medicine--that is based on an obsolete and dangerous process.

ePrescribing has made inroads into this cumbersome process, and where electronic prescriptions have been implemented, errors have been cut significantly. Digital systems are now giving doctors flexibility to print and send. They can print script in their offices using internet-ready PCs or a variety of palm devices that are readily available.

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