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A Prescription for Improved Patient Safety
Huguley Hospital Implements Computerized Provider Order Entry and Eliminates Handwritten Physician Orders

Beginning March 22, Huguley Memorial Medical Center will say farewell to the days of handwritten physician and provider orders for all inpatients in favor of a new, computerized system designed to drastically reduce medical errors and speed up patient care.  When Huguley launches its computerized provider order entry system ( CPOE), it will be at the forefront of new medical technology designed to improve patient safety and will rank in the top 19.2% of the nation’s hospitals for having a fully-integrated electronic medical records system.“The decision to implement CPOE is an example of Huguley’s commitment to delivering the best possible patient care.  The evidence clearly shows that CPOE improves the care process,” said Brenda Gammon, Huguley Memorial Medical Center board member.

Studies show 770,000 Americans are harmed or die each year from adverse drug events, and over half of medication errors occur during the ordering process, many from illegible and incomplete orders.  Computerized provider order entry systems are widely regarded as the technical solution to medication ordering errors.  Implementing CPOE means physicians actually place orders directly into the electronic medical record, eliminating paper, reducing errors and decreasing the amount of time elapsed from physician order to patient care.  Published studies report that CPOE reduces medication errors in the hospital between 81-86% and saves hundreds of billions in annual costs. 

Huguley was one of the first area hospitals to introduce electronic medical records more than seven years ago when it launched a computer-based health record for its nursing staff, medical records and business office.  Having a patient’s medical record available electronically improved patient safety with bedside charting in real-time and with improved access to the patient’s record. However, until the introduction of CPOE, physicians still have entered orders on paper or verbally.

“This is a gratifying day for everyone in the Huguley family because it’s another instance where we’re implementing new technology to make our hospital the best it can be,” said Edward Laue, M.D., chief medical officer of Huguley Memorial Medical Center.  “I’m excited for our employees and the medical staff and proud of their efforts to bring this project to fruition.  But the real winners are the patients because CPOE will help us deliver safer, superior care.”

Philip Smith, MD, vice president and chief medical information officer for Adventist Health System (AHS), the company that owns Huguley, says implementing a full-scale CPOE system at other AHS hospitals facilitated broad clinical care improvements.  “In the months following our pilot sites in 2009, adverse drug effects were greatly reduced, and there was a significant reduction in the number of times physicians had to be called to clarify medication orders, which minimizes delays,” said Dr. Smith. 

“Through their commitment to make a fairly radical change in how they deliver patient orders, our physicians and providers have shown their commitment to doing what’s best for patients and what’s best for Huguley.  The bottom line is CPOE is better medicine. It offers tremendous gains in patient safety and quality,” said Dr. Laue.