Medication errors occur all too frequently in the healthcare system and are known to be the largest identified source of preventable errors in hospitals. Such errors can lead to patient harm, increased hospitalisation, and increased cost. Although errors involving cancer chemotherapy are rare, they can cause extreme patient harm. Electronic prescribing systems and electronic health records (EHR) provide an opportunity to enhance medication management in cancer care. Such enhancements aren't guaranteed without dedicated effort and exceptional implementation methods so that any trade-off between efficiency, quality, and safety can be avoided.
In fact, electronic systems can increase error rates, introduce new types of errors, or simply move the same type of error along the workflow. It is critical to understand how and why these errors occur, identifying the predisposing factors related to the error. Once known, these factors may then be managed within an electronic system or within the health service to avoid the error.
With good governance and an effective implementation or management approach, known errors can be easily avoided, potential errors proactively managed, and emergent errors quickly resolved.