The use of computerised prescribing and decision support to reduce medication error is a common element of medication safety policy. This paper discusses the sort of characteristics that a decision support system should have. The system should slot into a wider vision of good prescribing, not conflict with it, and should be based on our understanding of the causes of error. As yet there is little evidence that decision support is effective in changing patient outcome, and the evaluation in this field is of limited quality and generalisability. It is proposed that software design should target high risk patients and drugs, trap dosing errors, have standardised methods of production and evaluation, be congruent with good prescribing, focus on the tasks that computers do well, individualise treatment, and ensure that prescribers enjoy using the final product.
- information technology
- decision making
- computerised prescribing
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This paper is adapted from a presentation given at the 2nd US/UK Patient Safety Research Methodology Workshop: Safety by Design held in Washington in 2003. The views expressed are those of the author.