The impact of electronic prescriptions on medication safety in Finnish community pharmacies: A survey of pharmacists
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CitationKauppinen Hanna. Ahonen Riitta. Timonen Johanna. (2017). The impact of electronic prescriptions on medication safety in Finnish community pharmacies: A survey of pharmacists. International Journal of Medical Informatics, 100, 56-62. 10.1016/j.ijmedinf.2017.01.014.
The purpose was to explore pharmacists’ opinions regarding the impacts of electronic prescriptions (ePrescriptions) on medication safety in Finnish community pharmacies. Further objectives were to explore how often and what kinds of ambiguities or errors pharmacists have perceived in ePrescriptions.
A survey of randomly selected dispensers (n = 1004) and pharmacists (n = 228) was conducted in 2014.
Altogether 778 questionnaires were returned, yielding response rates of 64% (n = 635) for dispensers and 65% (n = 143) for pharmacists. The respondents felt that ePrescriptions improve medication safety in many areas: they lower the number of prescription forgeries, reduce the risk of dispensing errors, promote better management of the patient’s overall medication, facilitate monitoring of duplicative therapy and drug interactions, and lessen the risk of incorrect interpretation of prescriptions. Many respondents (32%) reported that they had weekly found ambiguities or errors in ePrescriptions that required clarification during the dispensing process. Of the respondents, 18.6% had found such ambiguities or errors daily or almost daily. The three most common ambiguities or errors in ePrescriptions were incorrect total amount of medication (79.0%), missing notation of exceptional dosage instructions or exceptional purpose of use (SIC!) (69.0%), and unclear or incorrect dosage instructions (65.4%). Incorrect strength (14.9%) and incorrect pharmaceutical form (14.2%) were also commonly experienced problems.
According to Finnish community pharmacists, the introduction of ePrescriptions has promoted medication safety in many areas. However, ambiguities and errors are common in ePrescriptions. Some of these can delay dispensing of the medicine, whereas others can cause serious risks to medication safety.