A qualitative study of prescribing errors among multi-professional prescribers within an e-prescribing system

Fahad Alshahrani, John Marriott, Anthony Cox

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Background Computerised Physician Order Entry (CPOE) is considered to enhance the safety of prescribing. However, it can have unintended consequences and new forms of prescribing error have been reported. Objective The aim of this study was to explore the causes and contributing factors associated with prescribing errors reported by multidisciplinary prescribers working within a CPOE system. Main Outcome Measure Multidisciplinary prescribers experience of prescribing errors in an CPOE system. Method This qualitative study was conducted in a hospital with a well-established CPOE system. Semi-structured qualitative interviews were conducted with prescribers from the professions of pharmacy, nursing, and medicine. Interviews analysed using a mixed inductive and deductive approach to develop a framework for the causes of error. Results Twenty-three prescribers were interviewed. Six main themes influencing prescribing were found: the system, the prescriber, the patient, the team, the task of prescribing and the work environment. Prominent issues related to CPOE included, incorrect drug name picking, default auto-population of dosages, alert fatigue and remote prescribing. These interacted within a complex prescribing environment. No substantial differences in the experience of CPOE were found between the professions. Conclusion Medical and non-medical prescribers have similar experiences of prescribing errors when using CPOE, aligned with existing published literature about medical prescribing. Causes of electronic prescribing errors are multifactorial in nature and prescribers describe how factors interact to create the conditions errors. While interventions should focus on direct CPOE issues, such as training and design, socio-technical, and environmental aspects of practice remain important.
Original languageEnglish
Journal International Journal of Clinical Pharmacy
Early online date9 Nov 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 9 Nov 2020


  • CPOE
  • Clinical pharmacy
  • Electronic prescribing
  • Prescribing


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