A Comparison of the U.S. and U.K. Inpatient Medication Systems


The Issue

In this article, Claire Lemer (formerly Stebbing), a 2004–05 Harkness Fellow in Health Care Policy and Practice, and her coauthors compare hospital medication systems in the United States and the United Kingdom, focusing on each nation's efforts to prevent adverse drug events and medication errors. 

What the Study Found

In the United States, research has found that the use of computerized physician order entry and decision support software improves safety by reducing prescribing and transcribing errors. To ensure the effectiveness of such systems, it is important to involve health care professionals in their development and make them easier to use than previous systems. The United Kingdom is developing a standard medication system for NHS providers across the country, with one body—the National Patient Safety Agency—overseeing drug safety. Such oversight and interoperability is critical, the authors say.


The authors conclude that both countries need to prioritize medication safety. Using technology to automate prescribing, dispensing, and administration tasks can bring many improvements, but low-cost interventions are also important, they say.

Publication Details

Publication Date: June 28, 2011
Authors: Claire Stebbing, M.B.B.S., Ann Jacklin, B.Pharm., Nick Barber, B.Pharm., Ph.D., and David W. Bates, M.D., M.Sc.
Summary Writer: Martha Hostetter
C. Stebbing, A. Jacklin, N. Barber et al., "A Comparison of the U.S. and U.K. Inpatient Medication Systems," European Journal of Hospital Pharmacy Practice, 2006 12(4):36–40.

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