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Washington Post: Computer systems designed to eliminate medical errors can contribute to mistakes


(12/21/2004) - The Washington Post reports today that computer systems designed to prevent medication errors in hospitals can actually contribute to mistakes. The article cites an annual report on medication errors released yesterday by the U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP), a nonprofit group that sets standards for the drug industry.

According to the article, as more hospitals have implemented automated systems for administering drugs, the number of errors associated with them has risen.

"It would seem logical that applying computer technology to the medication use process would have a significant positive impact in preventing medication errors," said Diane Cousins, vice president of USP's Center for the Advancement of Patient Safety. "Yet, depending on the computer's design or user competence, new points of potential errors can emerge."


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