J Am Med Inform Assoc doi:10.1136/amiajnl-2011-000255
  • Research and applications

Factors contributing to an increase in duplicate medication order errors after CPOE implementation

  1. Pascale Carayon2,5
  1. 1Department of Medicine, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, Madison, Wisconsin, USA
  2. 2Center for Quality and Productivity Improvement, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin, USA
  3. 3Geisinger Health System, Danville, Pennsylvania, USA
  4. 4Geisinger Health System, Center for Health Research, Danville, Pennsylvania, USA
  5. 5Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin, USA
  1. Correspondence to Tosha B Wetterneck, Division of General Internal Medicine, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, 310 North Midvale Boulevard, Suite 205, Madison, WI 53705, USA; tbw{at}
  • Received 16 March 2011
  • Accepted 26 June 2011
  • Published Online First 29 July 2011


Objective To evaluate the incidence of duplicate medication orders before and after computerized provider order entry (CPOE) with clinical decision support (CDS) implementation and identify contributing factors.

Design CPOE with duplicate medication order alerts was implemented in a 400-bed Northeastern US community tertiary care teaching hospital. In a pre-implementation post-implementation design, trained nurses used chart review, computer-generated reports of medication orders, provider alerts, and staff reports to identify medication errors in two intensive care units (ICUs).

Measurement Medication error data were adjudicated by a physician and a human factors engineer for error stage and type. A qualitative analysis of duplicate medication ordering errors was performed to identify contributing factors.

Results Data were collected for 4147 patient-days pre-implementation and 4013 patient-days post-implementation. Duplicate medication ordering errors increased after CPOE implementation (pre: 48 errors, 2.6% total; post: 167 errors, 8.1% total; p<0.0001). Most post-implementation duplicate orders were either for the identical order or the same medication. Contributing factors included: (1) provider ordering practices and computer availability, for example, two orders placed within minutes by different providers on rounds; (2) communication and hand-offs, for example, duplicate orders around shift change; (3) CDS and medication database design, for example confusing alert content, high false-positive alert rate, and CDS algorithms missing true duplicates; (4) CPOE data display, for example, difficulty reviewing existing orders; and (5) local CDS design, for example, medications in order sets defaulted as ordered.

Conclusions Duplicate medication order errors increased with CPOE and CDS implementation. Many work system factors, including the CPOE, CDS, and medication database design, contributed to their occurrence.


  • This paper was presented in part at the 2010 Society of Hospital Medicine Annual Meeting.

  • Funding This study was supported by grants R01-HS15274 and K08-HS17014 from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and grant 1UL1RR025011 from the Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) program of the National Center for Research Resources, NIH. These agencies had no other role in the design, conduct, and reporting of this research.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Ethics approval The Geisinger Health IRB and the University of Wisconsin Health Sciences IRB approved this study.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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