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Electronic prescribing & administration (ePA)

Electronic prescribing & administration (ePA)

This is an update on a story featured in our Quality Account 2014/2015 [view more about ePrescribing at Waitemata DHB].

Why is electronic prescribing & administration important?

Medicines are one of the highest causes of preventable harm to patients. International research suggests that approximately 50% of medication harm occurs during prescribing, 40% during administration, and 10% during dispensing and distribution. The Institute of Healthcare Improvement recommends automation and computerisation as one of the most effective tools for preventing medication errors.

Electronic prescribing and administration (ePA) offers significant benefits over paper-based prescribing and administration, for example:

  • prescriptions are easier to read (legible)
  • errors made when prescribers chart medications are reduced
  • time spent finding medication charts is eliminated
  • much easier access to important safety information such as allergies, warnings when dose
  • ranges are exceeded, and warnings about drug interactions

Nurse using iPad for ePrescribing

Update for 2015/2016

Waitemata DHB now has the largest single electronic prescribing implementation in Australasia and is the only DHB in New Zealand to have completed the roll‐out of electronic medication management to approximately 980 beds covering acute, elective, forensic psychiatric and mental health services.

Waitakere Hospital becoming the first emergency ward in Australasia to use the electronic system for prescribing medications to inpatients in October 2015, and was our first department to use iPad tablet devices for ePrescribing instead of computers on wheels (COWs).

Our pharmacy operations manager David Ryan was recently named a finalist in the New Zealand Excellence in IT Awards for introducing ePrescribing to our hospitals and for spearheading the development of a customised tablet allowing clinical staff to receive alerts when medications are due, check medications and dosages as well as dispense and record information at the bedside. 

ePrescribing on iPad


Where to from here?

We will continue to monitor the system to look for opportunities for refinement and improvements. With our new electronic systems for ePA, electronic medicines reconciliation (eMR) [view more about eMR] and eVitals [view more about eVitals] we are investigating how they can be better integrated (talk to each other) so that staff are alerted when there are serious risks, and better clinical decisions can be made.

These systems and ePA are part of the wider Leapfrog Programme [view more about Leapfrog].