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Study finds mistakes with handwritten opioid prescriptions

When a doctor makes a mistake when treating a patient, the consequences can be devastating. Some of the most common doctor errors occur when a doctor makes a mistake while writing the patient's prescription. A recent study by researchers at Johns Hopkins found that handwritten prescriptions for opioids in particular are much less reliable than those that are done electronically.

Researchers looked at just over 500 prescriptions filled at a Johns Hopkins Medicine outpatient pharmacy and determined the number of prescribing and processing errors in both electronic and handwritten opioid prescriptions when the patient was discharged. The study found that 42 percent of all the prescriptions had errors. Handwritten prescriptions made up 47 percent of the prescriptions, but 89 percent of them deviated from the DEA's "best practice" guidelines or missed two forms or more of patient identification. Electronic prescriptions, which use a template that automatically follows best practice guidelines and only require a signature, did not have any errors.

Researchers say that most errors do not result in patients being prescribed the wrong medication or dosage. However, it is clear that electronic prescriptions reduce the risk of error and, therefore, are safer for patients. Pharmacists double-checking the prescription and other safety measures can also help prevent errors.

If a patient in Maryland is harmed as a result of a doctor error, they may be able to file a medical malpractice lawsuit against the physician, hospital and other negligent parties. A successful claim may allow patients to recover damages to cover medical expenses, lost wages and pain and suffering.

Source: Newsmax, "Handwritten Opioid Prescriptions More Prone to Mistakes," Sylvia Booth Hubbard, July 10, 2017

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