providers in great detail. The IOM report Preventing Medication Errors (2007) describes challenges in this area, including barriers to implementing and perfecting the use of information technology. That report also recommends several measures to improve communication to providers by government agencies and health systems (see Box 6-2 and Appendix C).

In the health care delivery system, information about drug safety, and particularly risk management, is integrated into drug prescribing and distribution systems (e.g., claims databases that issue alerts when two drugs with potential interactions are prescribed for the same patient). In its work,

BOX 6-2

Recommendations Pertaining to Providers (and Patients) from Preventing Medication Errors

Recommendation 3: All health care organizations should immediately make complete patient-information and decision-support tools available to clinicians and patients. Health care systems should capture information on medication safety and use this information to improve the safety of their care delivery systems. Health care organizations should implement the appropriate systems to enable providers to:

  • Have access to comprehensive reference information concerning medications and related health data.

  • Communicate patient-specific medication-related information in an interoperable format.

  • Assess the safety of medication use through active monitoring and use these monitoring data to inform the implementation of prevention strategies.

  • Write prescriptions electronically by 2010 and all pharmacies to be able to receive them electronically, also by 2010. All prescribers should have plans in place by 2008 to implement electronic prescribing.

  • Subject prescriptions to evidence-based, current clinical decision support.

  • Have the appropriate competencies for each step of the medication use process.

  • Make effective use of well-designed technologies, which will vary by setting.

Recommendation 5: Industry and government should collaborate to establish standards affecting drug-related health information technologies, specifically:

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