Report: Millions of medication errors another reason e-prescribing should be in place by 2010

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The frequency of medication errors in healthcare, including long-term care, is a major concern, according to a report released Thursday by the Institute of Medicine. Roughly 1.5 million medication errors harm people while thousands of others are killed. Also, the annual monetary cost to the system is about $3.5 billion, the IOM concluded.

As a result, healthcare organizations should create plans to implement e-prescribing by 2008 with implementation by 2010. Pharmacies should also be able to receive prescriptions by 2010.

A hospital patient is subject to at least one medication error per day on average, the report said. The consequences are expensive. An error that causes harm in a hospital can cost an additional $6,000 while an injury-inducing error in an outpatient setting can cost an extra $2,000.