In years past, patients' medical records were stored in color-coded paper filing systems and charts. Prescriptions were handed out on a piece of paper, scrawled with the doctor's often-untidy signature, to be handed to the clerk at the pharmacy counter who would then dispense the drug. These days, however, doctors, hospitals and pharmacies in Pennsylvania have turned to electronic means to keep track of patient records. Everything, from a medical exam to the administration of medications is recorded electronically, and prescriptions are sent to the pharmacy straight from the physician's computer. While it may seem that upgrades in technology would lead to upgrades in patient care, this is not always the case.
According to recent data, computer prescriber order entry (CPOE) systems are the biggest factor with regards to medication mistakes in Pennsylvania. Health care facilities in Pennsylvania reported almost 890 incidents of medication mistakes in the first six months of 2016, in which health care information technology was a factor. Most errors were regarding not including dosages or giving the wrong dosages, through an overdose or providing a patient with extra doses.