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E-prescriptions would save lives

James Rogers
An Audit Commission report has called on the Department of Health (DoH) to radically improve its use of technology for administering drugs in NHS hospitals to help prevent tragic errors.

The report said, "Computerised prescribing linked with electronic health records will radically alter the way in which care is provided and will deliver significant improvements in the quality of patient care."

Auditors warned that most prescription errors in hospitals were caused by a shortfall in accurate drug and patient information.

The commission also called on the Government to consider making funds available to improve electronic prescribing in hospitals. "The DoH and the National Assembly [for Wales] should commission a specification for automated dispensary systems and consider the provision of earmarked funds to roll out the introduction of these systems to all trusts," said the report.

However, one NHS IT manager warned that the Health Service faces a massive IT challenge in implementing the systems. "There is a lot involved in electronic prescribing systems, for example, you have to have a network that is capable of taking wireless Lans effectively," he explained.

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