Pharmacy, Facsimile, and Cyberspace

An Examination of Legal Frameworks for Electronic Prescribing

Published in: Albany Law Journal of Science & Technology, 13 Alb. L.J. Sci. & Tech. 1

Posted on RAND.org on January 01, 2002

by M. Susan Ridgely, Michael D. Greenberg

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Electronic Prescribing ("E-prescribing") is defined as, "the use of an automated data entry system to generate a prescription, rather than writing it on paper." Automation of the prescribing process and of the transmission of prescriptions has been lauded by advocates, because of its potential to decrease medication errors, and thereby increase the quality of medical care for patients. However, there is concern that the increasing use of e-prescribing will place personal health information at greater risk of inappropriate disclosure because e-prescribing involves the use of handheld devices, wireless networks, and the Internet. Congress and the states have passed laws and developed regulations specifically designed to protect private health information. Are these laws in conflict with the technological trend toward wireless transfer of physician and patient-specific health information, and will they present overwhelming barriers to the widespread use of e-prescribing?

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