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Am J Health Syst Pharm. 2011 Jan 15;68(2):158-63. doi: 10.2146/ajhp080298.

Addition of electronic prescription transmission to computerized prescriber order entry: Effect on dispensing errors in community pharmacies.

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Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, MA 02120, USA.



The addition of electronic prescription transmission to computerized prescriber order entry (CPOE) and its effect on dispensing errors in community pharmacies were evaluated.


A controlled, before-and-after trial to measure the effect of electronic prescribing on dispensing errors in two control clinics and one e-prescribing clinic already using CPOE was conducted between January and November 2006. Prescriptions documented within the CPOE system were reconciled with dispensed prescription information from participating pharmacy chains via a national pharmacy information exchange network. Dispensing errors were defined as discrepancies between the prescriber's written orders and the dispensed prescription information. Prescriptions filled at nonparticipating pharmacies were not analyzed.


A total of 11,447 prescriptions were written in the control clinics, and 29,575 were written in the e-prescribing clinic. During the intervention period, 2,179 (22%) of 9,905 intervention clinic prescriptions were electronically transmitted, including 621 (28%) available for analysis. There was no significant difference in the dispensing-error rates between the baseline and intervention periods for the control clinics. Similarly, the dispensing-error rates did not differ significantly for the e-prescribing clinic between the baseline and intervention periods for prescriptions that were not electronically transmitted. The e-prescribing clinic's dispensing-error rate for electronically transmitted prescriptions during the intervention was significantly lower than its baseline dispensing-error rate (p = 0.03).


Electronic transmission of prescription data from physicians' offices to a pharmacy nearly halved the risk of dispensing errors compared with generating the prescription with outpatient CPOE and printing it and giving it to the patient.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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