Compared with blank prescriptions, electronic prescribing (e-prescribing) is safer and more formulary-compliant, satisfying, and efficient. Owing to cost, fewer publicly funded organizations use e-prescribing but may afford preformatted prescription forms. We investigated whether preformatted prescription forms confer similar benefits as e-prescribing.
Two preformatted prescription forms containing medications’ name, strength, dose, route, frequency, number of refills, and restrictions were released in an adult medicine clinic, which previously used blank forms. Pharmacy data were evaluated for changes in prescribing safety and formulary compliance. Surveys assessed changes in prescribing satisfaction and perceived efficiency.
Preformatted prescription forms yielded safer, more formulary-compliant prescribing than blank forms. Among medications preformatted on forms, a smaller percentage of pharmacy interventions were for prescribing errors compared with the same medications prescribed previously using blank forms (54% vs. 31%, P = 0.014). Among medications preformatted on forms, a smaller percentage of pharmacy interventions were for formulary noncompliance compared with the same medications prescribed previously using blank forms (21% vs. 4%, P = 0.002).
Nearly all respondents felt preformatted forms helped with legibility and choosing the correct dose and proper strength. Fifty percent of respondents indicated the forms improved medication selection.
Preformatted forms were perceived as more satisfying and efficient. Ninety-three percent of respondents stated they would use the forms on their next patient.
Preformatted prescription forms achieved the major objectives of e-prescribing: safer, more formulary-compliant, satisfying, and efficient prescribing. They can serve as a transitional phase to e-prescribing for resource-constrained organizations such as publicly funded clinics.
From the *David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA;
†Department of Medicine,
‡Infectious Disease, and
§Internal Medicine, Olive View-UCLA Medical Center, Sylmar, CA.
Correspondence: Mark Richman, MD, MPH, Olive View-UCLA Medical Center, Department of Medicine, 14445 Olive View Dr., Room 2B-182, Sylmar, CA 91342 (e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org).
The authors disclose no conflict of interest.