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Most hospitals don't use latest ordering technology

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Computers programmed to screen out errors and standardize physicians' orders for prescriptions, tests and other care have been a source of hope in reducing medical errors and improving patient safety. The problem is that most hospitals aren't using this technology, known as computerized physician order entry (CPOE).

Reducing medical errors gained a sense of urgency in 2000 when the Institute of Medicine reported on the issue. The institute found that medical errors may be responsible for up to 98,000 deaths in hospitals and cost the U.S. health care system approximately $38 billion per year.

Despite a wide array of quality, policy and financial incentives to use CPOE, fewer than 10 percent of American hospitals make it completely available to their physicians. This was among the findings of a study conducted by researchers in the Oregon Health & Science University School of Medicine and recently published in online edition of the Journal of the American Medical Information Association (JAMIA).

"CPOE reduces medical errors by eliminating illegible orders, improving communication and order tracking, checking for inappropriate orders, and providing reminders to carry out orders," said Joan Ash, Ph.D, M.L.S., M.B.A. "However, its use is not yet widespread because it has a reputation for being difficult to implement successfully." Ash is the study's lead author and associate professor of medical informatics and clinical epidemiology in the OHSU School of Medicine.

In a combined mail and telephone survey of 964 randomly selected hospitals, Ash's study examined the availability of inpatient CPOE in U.S. hospitals and the degree to which physicians are using it. The response rate was 65 percent. Researchers found that:

  • CPOE was not available to physicians at 83.7 percent of responding hospitals.
  • 6.5 percent reported partial availability.
  • 9.6 percent reported complete availability.
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Contact: Rachel MacKnight
macknigh@ohsu.edu
503-494-8231
Oregon Health & Science University
24-Nov-2003


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