Why E-prescribing Should Be Mandatory

June 9, 2015

In this day and age, there is no reason why prescribers should avoid sending prescriptions to pharmacies electronically.

In this day and age, there is no reason why prescribers should avoid sending prescriptions to pharmacies electronically.

Some prescribers feel that crossing over to e-prescribing isn’t worth the money because they are retiring soon or have a small practice. But who would rather spend their cash on a malpractice lawsuit because the scripts they wrote were misread?

Usually, e-scripts don’t have any issues, and the drug and patient have already been verified through an interaction check. I’ll still take a look at that in case we know something the prescriber doesn’t, but it’s nice to know he or she signed off on it.

The prescription also comes in ahead of the patient, which gives us a good shot of getting it done before the patient arrives at the pharmacy.

Admittedly, this does not always happen. The main problem is a lot of prescribers tell a patient, “I just sent it over,” leading the patient to assume that a pharmacist at a 300-script-a-day pharmacy was just looking for something to do when the prescription came in, and within minutes, the medications will be ready for pick up.

E-prescribers who do give us a lot of lead time have my undying appreciation.

In my practice, a few doctors still handwrite prescriptions in what looks like Sanskrit. In my opinion, this shows complete lack of care for patients, as it pushes them further into the firing line of a dangerous medication error than they should be.

It also shows a complete lack of regard for the pharmacist. Saying I’m busy is a gross understatement, because on any given day, I’m filling 300 or more scripts, giving immunizations—sometimes as many as 20 in a day during flu season—and counseling patients on their various medications and conditions. My time is precious, too.

When I have to take the time to call your office to clarify something and one of your assistants laughs out loud because “this always happens,” I grow angry and feel like picking up chain-smoking again. I don’t know what a prescriber is trying to prove by using substandard penmanship when a life is on the line.

I would like to see e-scripts become mandatory in medicine. I don’t know one physician who is starving to death and does not have the ducats to convert in this decade. Patients would be much safer, and a pharmacist’s time—which is most valuable in a practice where high-volume counts—wouldn’t be wasted by having to track down a prescriber on something completely avoidable. Quality of care in all facets would improve.

Jay Sochoka, RPh, has awful handwriting.