More Southern DHB patients are being protected from medication errors thanks to the successful roll out of the MedChart electronic prescribing project in 2013.

Since its implementation launch in September 2012 MedChart has been rolled out to 316 patient beds over 22 wards (including virtual wards) over two hospital sites, approximately 45% of the way through the total number of DHB beds targeted.

The project team are on track to achieve their target of 711 inpatient beds by November 2014, with the Rehabilitation Ward at ISIS, Wakari the latest ward to be completed as part of the roll out.

Medication errors made up to five percent of the serious and sentinel events reported by DHBs in 2011–12 and the MedChart project aims to dramatically reduce medication errors as it enables doctors to electronically chart patient medications, removing the risk of handwriting being misinterpreted. In addition nursing staff administer and record all medications electronically, resulting in a reduction in errors and subsequent harm to people.

Southern District Health Board was the first DHB to introduce the MedChart project, as part of the Medication Management programme being lead by the South Island Alliance  (SIA) Information Services Service Level Alliance. The programme include several workstreams, of which e-prescribing is one, to directly reduce the risk of medication errors for patients via introducing systems that mean greater clarity and accuracy around prescribing and administration of medicines.


The initial introduction of the MedChart project in a Dunedin pilot saw a reduction in errors of over 98% and eliminated the risk of most common errors, such as patient identification and illegible drug names.


After achieving their roll-out target for 2013, the MedChart team will now be looking to consolidate and support those staff currently using MedChart including new staff coming into the DHB and to test & roll out the updated system in 2014.

The rollout across New Zealand is being closely monitored by the University of Otago and Auckland University, funded by the Health Quality and Safety Commission.

Speaking about the programme’s success to date Lexie O’Shea, Executive Director Patient Service commented “The MedChart Project team would like to acknowledge the excellent teamwork of DHB staff in adopting what is a significant change in medication process for the wards. The results of dedication and team work will translate to a significant reduction in medication errors and a great improvement in patient safety, which is good news for all.”