Pharmacy Solutions

Written by Patricia Tunstall
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When pharmacists receive written prescriptions from patients who hand-deliver them to a drug store, for instance, many factors come into play that can cause errors. First, is the notorious handwriting of most doctors (and people). If the physician is in a hurry, the handwriting may become even more sloppy. If the pharmacist is in a hurry, the necessary phone calls to the physician to check on dosage or drug name may not get made.

Communication among the Parties

Reports reveal that more than 150 million calls are made annually from pharmacists to physicians asking for clarification of some item in a handwritten prescription. These calls waste time for both parties, and indicate the seriousness of the problem of an archaic system for prescribing medication. "Is that Avandia or Coumadin you prescribed?" "Is there a decimal before that zero?"

Abbreviations are especially prone to misreading if care is not taken in writing or printing them. Weights, volume, units, and frequency--all are critical to the accurate dispensing of medicine. In a prescription, "qd" (once a day) may be misread as "qid" (four times a day).

At every step of the way in this old-fashioned system, errors can easily be made. With ePrescribing, these errors are eliminated because of the electronic transmission of prescriptions, which enables instant communication between prescriber and pharmacist in a clear fashion. Not only are the prescriber's intentions evident, but vast amounts of time are saved that can be spent on more worthwhile medical activities.

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