H-CENTRAL COAST

Aug 30, 2013 9:19 PM by Connie Tran, KSBY News

More doctors required to write prescriptions electronically

Hospitals along the Central Coast are now turning to modern-day technology when it comes to dealing with prescription drugs. Many doctors are now required to use an electronic device to write a prescription, instead of the old-fashioned way of writing it down.

At Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center in San Luis Obispo, the physicians and pharmacists work with an electronic prescription program called Cerner Millenium.

"We've been using e-prescription for about two years," said Shilpa Patel, a Clinical Pharmacist for Sierra Vista.

Patel said her job is a lot easier when a doctor prescribes electronically, but who it really benefits, she said, is the patient.

She said, "Well the primary benefit is that it increases patient safety. It allows for less medication errors. It allows for pharmacists to read prescriptions more easy."

The Institute of Medicine reports that doctors' sloppy handwriting is responsible for 7,000 deaths each year.

San Luis Obispo private-practice pediatrician Dr. Rene Bravo said medication error is a serious issue in the modern practice of medicine.

"I'm a strong advocate of e-prescribing. I think it's an important tool in the future, in terms of decreasing medication errors and interpretations. I myself, plan to eventually go there. I still may do both and find a hybrid between," said Dr. Bravo.

Dr. Bravo called himself old-school. The pediatrician still writes out his prescriptions to patients on a notepad as a way to keep the physician-patient relationship personal. He said he also strongly believes his handwriting, unlike others, is legible.

He said, "I want to be able to hand the patient something that I've written because that helps the therapuetic."

Sierra Vista and Twin Cities Community Hospital in Templeton require their physicians to use e-prescribing. An official for Marian Regional Medical Center in Santa Maria said some of its doctors e-prescribe, and some still write their prescriptions out.

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