Analysis of variations in the display of drug names in computerized prescriber-order-entry systems

Arbor J.L. Quist, Thu Trang T. Hickman, Mary G. Amato, Lynn A. Volk, Alejandra Salazar, Alexandra Robertson, Adam Wright, David W. Bates, Shobha Phansalkar, Bruce L. Lambert, Gordon D. Schiff*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Purpose. The variations in how drug names are displayed in computerized prescriber-order-entry (CPOE) systems were analyzed to determine their contribution to potential medication errors. Methods. A diverse set of 10 inpatient and outpatient CPOE system vendors and self-developed CPOE systems in 6 U.S. healthcare institutions was evaluated. A team of pharmacists, physicians, patient-safety experts, and informatics experts created a CPOE assessment tool to standardize the assessment of CPOE features across the systems studied. Hypothetical scenarios were conducted with test patients to study the medication ordering workflow and ways in which medications were displayed in each system. Brand versus generic drug name ordering was studied at 1 large outpatient system to understand why prescribers ordered both brand and generic forms of the same drug. Results. Widespread variations in the display of drug names were observed both within and across the 6 study sites and 10 systems, including the inconsistent display of brand and generic names. Some displayed drugs differently even on the same screen. Combination products were often displayed inconsistently, and some systems required prescribers to know the first drug listed in the combination in order for the correct product to appear in a search. It also appeared that prescribers may have prescribed both brand and generic forms of the same medication, creating the potential for drug duplication errors. Conclusion. A review of 10 CPOE systems revealed that medication names were displayed inconsistently, which can result in confusion or errors in reviewing, selecting, and ordering medications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)499-509
Number of pages11
JournalAmerican Journal of Health-System Pharmacy
Issue number7
StatePublished - Apr 1 2017


  • CPOE (computerized prescriber order entry)
  • Drug name confusion
  • Generic vs. brand names
  • Medication errors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Health Policy


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