Thursday, March 03, 2005

Comments on the military's EMR

Phil notes that the article on the military EMR, which has an electronic prescription tracking and writing function, cites one person as claiming:

"Since PDTS went online in 2001, it has prevented more than 99,000 potentially life-threatening drug reactions..."

He ponders whether this is a lot (or a little).

First of all a lot depends on the definition of "potentially life-threatening drug reaction". This can be a nebulous metric. Does this mean all prescription errors or only those which would have caused a serious reaction. It also doesn't take into account the fact that presumably, most of those 99,000 prescription errors would have been picked up the old fashion way regardless of the EMR.

With a patient base of nine million over four years and 99,000 "prescription errors" along with a conservative estimate of one prescription per year per patient, that corresponds to an error rate of 0.3%. This seems to be somewhat in the ballpark.

Phil also ponders whether physician assistants write more Rx errors than doctors. I haven't researched the answer but if that particular metric is anything like other metrics comparing physician efficiency to PA's and NP's (nurse practitioners) then I seriously doubt it.


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