Decreasing Drug Errors in Texas
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
(July 31, 2006—Austin, TX)—The Institute of Medicine recently reported that more than 1.5 million Americans suffer each year due to drug errors in hospitals, nursing homes and doctor’s offices.
“This is a disturbing number,” said William G. Gamel, MD, CEO, TMF Health Quality Institute. “It’s a reminder to all of us in the health care profession that we need to continue to move toward improved e-prescribing and other forms of health information technology.”
Dr. Gamel believes that e-prescribing will reduce drug errors. “I’ve been a physician for more than 43 years. I probably wrote close to 40 prescriptions a day. That leaves room for errors.”
According to some estimates, almost 30 percent of the three billion prescriptions written annually require callbacks to the prescriber from the dispenser. “And even with all these callbacks, medication-related complications are still high,” said Dr. Gamel.
Dr. Gamel points out, however, that many Texas physicians are moving toward incorporating health information technology in their practices.
“About 300 Texas primary care practices are currently working with TMF to adopt health information technology, including electronic health records, computerized physician order entry and e-prescribing,” said Dr. Gamel. TMF provides these practices with assistance at no cost under a contract with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
According to Dr. Gamel, the change to electronic health records is inevitable for health care providers. “It’s not easy, but we have to move to a paperless health care system,” said Gamel. “We are a nation that prides itself on advanced technology, yet our health care system is as much as 15 years behind the technology curve.”
Dr. Gamel believes that consumers also need to take a proactive role in their health. “Patients need to ask questions anytime they are prescribed or given a drug,” said Dr. Gamel. “Make sure your doctor and nurse have a list of medications you already take. Don’t feel embarrassed if you don’t know how to take the medication; ask for help. If you have a sick relative in the hospital, make sure that you or someone is with him or her at all times.”
About TMF Health Quality Institute
TMF Health Quality Institute, formerly Texas Medical Foundation, is an Austin, Texas-based nonprofit consulting company focused on promoting quality health and health care through contracts with federal, state and local governments, as well as private organizations. TMF partners with health care providers in a variety of settings to ensure that every person receives the appropriate care, every time.