Background: The Institute of Medicine has urged the adoption of electronic prescribing systems in all health-care organizations by 2010. Accordingly, computerized physician order entry (CPOE) warrants detailed evaluation. Mixed results have been reported about the benefit of this system. No review of its application in surgical patients has been reported to date. We present the implementation of CPOE in the management of surgical patients within an academic multispecialty practice. Study Design: Retrospective and prospective analyses of patient-safety measures were done pre- and post-CPOE institution, respectively. Other metrics evaluated included medication errors, order-implementation times, efficiencies, personnel requirements, and physician time. Sampling of time span for the order placement process was assessed with direct hidden observation of the provider. Results: A total of 15 (0.22%) medication errors were discovered in 6,815 surgical procedures performed during the 6 months before CPOE use. After implementation, 10 medication errors were found (5,963 surgical procedures [0.16%]) in the initial 6 months and 13 (0.21%) in the second 6 months (6,106 surgical procedures) (p = NS). Mean total time from placement of order to nurse receipt before implementation was 41.2 minutes per order (2.05 minutes finding chart, 0.72 minutes writing order, 38.4 minutes for unit secretary transcription) compared with 27 seconds per order using CPOE (p < 0.01). Four additional informational technology specialists were temporarily required for assistance in implementing CPOE. After CPOE adoption, 11 of 56 (19.6%) ancillary personnel positions were eliminated related to order-entry efficiencies. Conclusions: Present CPOE technology can allow major efficiency gains, but refinements will be required for improvements in patient safety.
ASJC Scopus subject areas