Letters Section Editor: Robert M. Golub,
MD, Senior Editor.
To the Editor: The study by Dr Koppel and colleagues1 implied that computers can cause medication errors.
More accurately, humans cause medication errors. Humans design these computer
systems, humans select these computer systems, and humans implement this complex
technology in hospitals. A question that should be asked is who in the hospital
is making the purchase decisions. It is typically not the physicians and nurses
who use the systems. Over the past 3 decades a new integrative discipline
of clinical informatics has emerged. Physicians and nurses specifically trained
in informatics have a unique blend of education and skills not only in computer
science but also in organizational management. This training enables these
clinicians to lead process transformation, such as the introduction of online
medication orders, and evaluate its effects (both good and bad) on patient
care. Clinical informaticians should lead the process of selecting advanced
clinical information systems just as surgeons are intimately involved in the
selection of the lasers for the operating room and radiologists in selecting
the magnetic imaging devices.
Safran C, Detmer DE. Computerized Physician Order Entry Systems and Medication Errors. JAMA. 2005;294(2):178-181. doi:10.1001/jama.294.2.179-a