Medication errors contribute significantly to the morbidity and costs of pediatric health care. The authors hypothesized that hospitalwide computerized physician order entry (CPOE) in a pediatric hospital would lead to a decrease in medication errors.

The authors retrospectively evaluated and prospectively analyzed inpatient discharge and usage and adverse drug event (ADE) rate data pre- and postintroduction of a hospitalwide implementation of CPOE in a tertiary care pediatric hospital. They compared pre- and postintervention ADEs (Student's t test) and computed the number needed to treat (NNT) analog.

Over the 9-month study period, there were 45,615 in patient days and 8619 discharges. Pre-CPOE verbal order regulatory compliance was 80%, whereas post-CPOE increased to 95%. Transcription errors were eliminated. All ADEs pre-CPOE were 0.3 +/- 0.04 per 1000 doses, whereas post-CPOE ADEs were 0.37 +/- 0.05 per 1000 doses (P = .3). Harmful ADEs pre-CPOE were 0.05 +/- 0.017 per 1000 doses, while post-CPOE ADEs were 0.03 +/- 0.003 per 1000 doses (P = .05). Our NNT data demonstrate that CPOE would prevent 1 ADE every 64 (95% CI 25-100) patient days.

CPOE decreases harmful ADEs in a pediatric hospital, thus leading to increased patient safety. In addition, CPOE provides an automated system for monitoring and improving health care quality.