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E-prescriptions could help prevent medication errors

Perhaps one of the oldest jokes in medicine involves the poor handwriting skills of many doctors. Doctors are known to dash off illegible prescriptions for their patients to have filled. And while doctors in days gone by may have had no choice but to write out prescriptions, the years have seen technological advances that may make the sloppy script a thing of the past.

A major drug-store chain and a health care technology company are working together to encourage the use of e-prescriptions. E-prescription are sent to pharmacies electronically. At present, the health care technology company has links to over 93 percent of all pharmacies in the U.S.

According to data being cited by the technology company, the utilization of e-prescriptions could help decrease the number of adverse drug reactions by a significant percentage. This can be done by alerting pharmacists that a newly released medication may be dangerous to use in combination with another drug.

Perhaps one day doctors will be legally required to e-prescribe drugs for their patients. But as it currently stands, most doctors prefer to use the traditional pen and paper method. This can prove hazardous to a patient. If a pharmacist has trouble reading a doctor's handwriting, he or she may give the patient the wrong drug or information.

Therefore, it is incumbent upon pharmacists to read prescriptions carefully. Should a pharmacist have questions regarding the contents of a written prescription, he or she should contact the doctor's office to get clarification.

If you or someone you love is ever harmed due to a medication error, you may wish to consult with an Arizona medical malpractice attorney. The attorney could help determine why the incident occurred and how to best pursue compensation for injuries.

Source: Fortune, "Why drug stores are high on electronic prescriptions," Heather Clancy, March 5, 2015

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