Study: 9 in 10 handwritten opioid prescriptions contain errors

Nearly 90 percent of handwritten opioid prescriptions may contain an error, suggests research published in the Journal of Opioid Management.

For the study, researchers reviewed all opioid prescriptions issued to adults at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore for 15 consecutive days in June 2016. Researchers evaluated more than 500 prescriptions for adherence to best practice guidelines for prescription writing established by previous Johns Hopkins studies. They also looked for at least two patient identifiers on the prescriptions and examined whether the prescriptions complied with Drug Enforcement Administration's rules for prescribing controlled substances.

Among all prescriptions, 42 percent contained at least one error. Nine percent failed to meet best practice guidelines, 21 percent failed to include two patient identifiers and 41 percent were noncompliant with DEA standards. No errors occurred among EHR-generated prescriptions. Twelve percent of prescriptions conducted on a computer without using the EHR contained errors, and 89 percent of handwritten prescriptions contained at least one error.

"Mistakes can be made at any point in the prescribing, transcribing, processing, distribution, use and monitoring of opioids, but research has rarely focused as we have on prescribing at the time of hospital discharge or on written prescriptions prescribed for adults," said Mark Bicket, MD, assistant professor of anesthesiology and critical care medicine at Johns Hopkins and the paper's lead author. "What we hope our results do is get more practitioners to adopt electronic prescribing systems because we have a duty to practice in a way that has the lowest chance of harm to our patients."

More articles on opioids: 
FDA chief proposes new rules for providers, pharma to curb opioid addiction: 5 things to know 
Metro Health – University of Michigan Health to distribute free Narcan kits: 3 things to know 
Endo to pull opioid from market under FDA pressure

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