Standardized order form for investigational drugs: effect on completeness of the prescription
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Aim: To compare completeness and quality of orders written before and after introduction of a preprinted medication order form for investigational drugs. Completeness of physician's orders for investigational drugs was compared during two successive periods: before and after implementation of a preprinted form for these orders.
Method: Orders were checked for six elements: pharmaceutical company's identity, protocol's name, patient's identity (i.e., initials), investigator's signature, order's date, and drug designation. Each element was categorized according to three quality criteria: mistake (wrong information), omission, or imprecision (incomplete information). A total of 536 orders were evaluated corresponding to 268 orders and to 4824 quality criteria in each period.
Results: During the baseline study, 228 (85%) problematic prescriptions were detected. Of the 4824 quality criteria evaluated, 422 (8.7%) errors were recorded. Common types of errors were omission of pharmaceutical company's identity, mistaken protocol name, and omission of patient's identity. After the introduction of the order form, 13 (4.9%) prescriptions contained errors. Fifteen (0.3%) quality criteria were not in conformity with the standard. The common types of errors were omission of patient's identity and order date. Physician's orders for investigational drugs are more complete when they use a preprinted prescription form than when they use traditional orders.
Conclusion: The introduction of a preprinted order form for investigational drugs prevents potential medication errors and contributes to patients' safety.
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