The effect of computer-assisted prescription writing on emergency department prescription errors

Kenneth E. Bizovi, Brandon E. Beckley, Michelle C. McDade, Annette L. Adams, Robert A. Lowe, Andrew D. Zechnich, Jerris R. Hedges

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

88 Scopus citations


Objective: To determine whether computer-assisted prescription writing reduces the frequency of prescription errors in the emergency department (ED). Methods: A pre-post retrospective analysis was used to compare errors between handwritten (HW) and computer-assisted (CA) ED prescriptions. Prescriptions were reviewed for pharmacist clarifications. A clarification was defined as an error if missing information, incorrect information, incorrect dose, non-formulary medication, or illegibility was the reason for clarification. The HW and CA error rates were compared using odds ratios (ORs) with 95% confidence intervals (95% CIs). Results: During the pre-intervention period, there were 7,036 patient visits with 2,326 HW ED prescriptions filled for 1,459 patients. There were 91 clarifications, with a rate of 3.9%. There were 54 HW errors, for an error rate of 2.3%. During the post-intervention period, there were 7,845 patient visits with 1,594 CA prescriptions filled for 1,056 patients. There were 13 clarifications, with a clarification rate of 0.8%, and 11 errors, for a CA error rate of 0.7%. The CA prescriptions were substantially less likely to contain an error [OR 0.31 (95% CI = 0.10 to 0.36)] or to require pharmacist clarification [OR 0.19 (95% CI = 0.10 to 0.36)] than were the HW prescriptions. Conclusions: Computer-assisted prescriptions were more than three times less likely to contain errors and five times less likely to require pharmacist clarification than handwritten prescriptions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1168-1175
Number of pages8
JournalAcademic Emergency Medicine
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Computer-assisted medication systems
  • Emergency medicine
  • Human drug therapy
  • Medication errors
  • Prescription drugs
  • Prevention and control

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine


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