Using a Human Factors Framework to Explore E-prescribing Safety Issues in Community Pharmacies
Background: The volume of electronic prescriptions being processed across community pharmacies in the United States increases annually. This is as a result of recent allocation of funds from the federal government to expand the adoption of electronic prescribing (e-prescribing) technology nationwide. The primary purpose of this study was to gain insight into design features of e-prescribing in pharmacies that may pose a risk to safe delivery of patient care.
Methods: This study was guided by a human factors engineering framework, the Sociotechnical Systems Model. Pharmacists and technicians were recruited from seven community pharmacies in Wisconsin using three commonly used pharmacy dispensing systems (PDX, QS/1, and Pharmaserv). Data collection involved direct observations, think aloud protocols, and team interviews. Field notes and interview transcripts were thematic analysis based on constructs of the STS framework.
Findings and Implications: This study is the first of its kind to identify patient safety risks related to e-prescribing in community pharmacies using a systems engineering framework. Participants in this study reported that although e-prescribing has certain benefits to patient care, this health IT also has potential to increase the likelihood of medication errors due to challenges related to its design interface between pharmacy and prescriber systems.