Sunday, August 31, 2008

Prescriptions to go electronic

Scribbled doctors' prescriptions look to be on the way out with the Health Ministry set to pilot electronic prescribing next year.

Electronic prescribing will let GPs send prescriptions to pharmacies online, in a move the ministry says will help reduce medical errors.

Nelson woman Hilda Sixtus died in 2006 after she was allegedly prescribed a powerful anti-cancer drug with incorrect dosage instructions.

Pharmacists have said patients are at risk from errors in some existing software used to manage prescriptions, which could lead to incorrect doses being prescribed.

Alan Hesketh, deputy director of the ministry's information directorate, says electronic prescribing will reduce the risk of incorrect drugs being prescribed through the use of a common medications list – which will contain standardised doses, forms, strengths and instructions for medicines.

Health practitioners and patients will be able to access a complete electronic pharmaceutical history, showing what drugs people have taken and when. ...more

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