Background: Chemotherapy is prescribed according to protocols of several cycles. These protocols include not only therapeutic agents but also adjuvant solvents and inherent supportive care measures. Multiple errors can occur during the prescription, the transmission of documents and the drug delivery processes, and lead to potentially serious consequences.
Objective: To assess the effect of a computerised physician order entry (CPOE) system on the number of errors in prescription recorded by the centralised chemotherapy unit of a pharmacy service in a university hospital.
Patients and methods: Existing chemotherapy protocols were standardised by a multidisciplinary team (composed of a doctor, a pharmacist and a nurse) and a CPOE system was developed from a File Maker Pro database. Chemotherapy protocols were progressively introduced into the CPOE system. The effect of the system on prescribing errors was measured over 15 months before and 21 months after starting computerised protocol prescription. Errors were classified as major (dosage and drug name) and minor (volume or type of infusion solution).
Results: Before computerisation, 141 errors were recorded for 940 prescribed chemotherapy regimens (15%). After introduction of the CPOE system, 75 errors were recorded for 1505 prescribed chemotherapy regimens (5%). Of these errors, 69 (92%) were recorded in prescriptions that did not use a computerised protocol. A dramatic decrease in the number of errors was noticeable when 50% of the chemotherapy protocols were prescribed through the CPOE system.
Conclusion: Errors in chemotherapy prescription nearly disappeared after implementation of CPOE. The safety of chemotherapy prescription was markedly improved.
- CPOE, computerised physician order entry
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Competing interests: None.