EMIS Health's e-prescribing software improves patient safety in East Lancashire

East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust (ELHT) is seeing a dramatic reduction in drug chart errors, combined with improvements in guideline adherence supported by prescribing decision support. All lead to improved safety of patient care as they implement their electronic prescribing and medicines administration (ePMA) system.

By having an integrated ePMA, eMM (electronic medicines management), Pharmacy dispensing and stock control solution, provided by EMIS Health, interfaced to a dispensing robot, ELHT have improved operational efficiencies. Pharmacy technicians and pharmacists are enabled to influence prescribing at ward level and process supply requests electronically rather than sending paper to the dispensary. Human error is reduced by removing transcription errors and the use of templates to select prescriptions. Technology speeds up the entire medication requesting process so the potential to work with more reliable turnaround times for ‘Orders to Pharmacy’ is being realised.

Paperless drug charts reduce medication errors

One of ELHT’s core clinical indicators for reporting incidents is medication errors. They have measured a sample of paper drug charts from non-ePMA wards and noted that 98.7% of paper drug charts had an error of some form. Using ePMA immediately eliminated most of these errors. 

When examining ‘charts’ for five ePMA wards in the same time period, only three recorded errors were reported. Spelling and legibility issues plus incomplete prescriptions are things of the past.

Reliable and robust auditing and reporting

Ruth Townson, ePMA lead for the trust, commented: “ePMA has significantly improved our audit capability; it has given us the ability to really drill down into the information and perform root cause analysis if an issue arises. We can confidently recall a full medication history from prescribing through dispensing to administration, listing the exact time a record was made and by whom. Prior to ePMA when using a paper system we could not get to the level of detail or necessarily understand the true problem."

“An electronic system makes investigating data timelier and removes uncertainties.”

Ruth Townson, ePMA lead, East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust

New ways of working

Implementing a Trust wide ePrescribing and Medicines Administration system has been challenging for staff but as the roll out continues, more of them can see the benefits over a paper based system. Complex regimens and order sets within the system speeds up the prescribing process for doctors and gives new doctors confidence in their ability to prescribe correctly. Nurses are assured that they are supported by the system’s rigorous auditing capability plus they ensure medications are administered on time by using the dose prompting functionality for administration.  

By embracing new ways of working, staff can see that the benefits of an electronic system far outweigh those of a paper based system. By reducing errors and improving operational efficiency patient safety is enhanced.