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A Prescription for Improved Patient Safety...CPOE
Beginning February 15, 2011 Memorial Hospital said farewell to the days of handwritten physician and provider orders for all inpatients in favor of a new, computerized system designed to drastically reduce medical errors and speed up patient care. When Memorial Hospital launches its computerized provider order entry system, or CPOE, it will be at the forefront of new medical technology designed to improve patient safety, and will rank in the top 10.5% of the nation’s hospitals for having a fully-integrated electronic medical records system.

“The decision to implement CPOE is an example of Memorial Hospital’s commitment to delivering the best possible patient care. The evidence clearly shows that CPOE improves the care process,” said Grace Hall, Memorial Hospital board member.

Studies show 770,000 Americans are harmed or die each year from adverse drug events, and over half of medication errors occur during the ordering process, many from illegible and incomplete orders. Computerized provider order entry systems are widely regarded as the technical solution to medication ordering errors. Implementing CPOE means physicians actually place orders directly into the electronic medical record, eliminating paper, reducing errors and decreasing the amount of time elapsed from physician order to patient care. Published studies report that CPOE reduces medication errors in the hospital between 81-86% and saves hundreds of billions in annual costs.

“This is a gratifying day for everyone in the Memorial Hospital family because it’s another instance where we’re implementing new technology to make our hospital the best it can be,” said Dennis Meyers, president and chief executive officer. “I’m excited for our employees and the medical staff and proud of their efforts to bring this project to fruition. But the real winners are the patients because CPOE will help us deliver safer, superior care.”

Dr. Philip Smith, MD, vice president and chief medical information officer for Adventist Health System (AHS), the company that owns Memorial Hospital, says implementing a full-scale CPOE system at other AHS hospitals facilitated broad clinical care improvements. “In the months following our pilot sites in 2009, adverse drug effects were greatly reduced, several clinical rules resulted in a change in physician behavior to improve patient care, and there was a significant reduction in the number of times physicians had to be called to clarify medication orders, minimizing delays and freeing up pharmacists to invest time in rounding with physicians on the nursing units,” said Dr. Smith.

Memorial Hospital employees have been preparing for the transition for over four years. Dr. Smith says the effort of learning something new will undoubtedly benefit patients. “CPOE is safer – there’s less chance of misinterpretation of handwritten orders. It’s more efficient because there are fewer steps, and fewer steps means reduction of errors,” Dr. Smith said. “With providers entering orders directly into the system, we are not relying on someone else’s interpretation of what the plan is. We’re removing the middle man between the provider and the patient’s treatment.”`

“Through their commitment to make a fairly radical change in how they deliver patient orders, our physicians and providers have shown their commitment to doing what’s best for patients and what’s best for our community. The bottom line is CPOE is better medicine. It offers tremendous gains in patient safety and quality,” said Mr. Meyers.