Health PEI says a new electronic record-keeping system at Prince County Hospital means medications and other tests will reduce mistakes and improve patient safety.

Instead of writing prescriptions or orders for procedures such as x-rays or CT scans on paper, the information is now entered electronically. Hospital officials say it will limit mistakes due to poor handwriting.

"If you take handwriting out of the equation, if you take orders going through one or two or three people, through fax machines, through paper copies being hand delivered to another area — you eliminate as much of that risk as possible," said Dr. Scott Cameron.

The hospital said close to 80 per cent of medication errors happen because of prescriptions that are either written or copied poorly.

"The doctor's writing is a lot clearer when it's typed, so we don't have a lot of the patient safety errors of the past," said Beverly Martin, pharmacy manager at Prince County.

The hospital also said patients will be getting their medications three to four hours sooner with the new system.  

Officials were initially worried the transition would slow down day-to-day operations, but Walker said staff are adjusting quickly.

"It's gradually becoming their home. This is where they do all their work, they give their meds here, they can chart all their assessments here … They don't have to keep running back to the desk," she said.

Officials said similar systems at some other Canadian hospitals have reduced length of stays and even mortality rates.

Cameron said they'll be tracking the impact at Prince County.

"We're out in front of a lot of the country, so information that we gather here at a community hospital level is going to be very valuable for other areas of the country," he said.

Health PEI said it hopes to have all the hospitals in the province connected through the system in the next year, at a total cost of about $2.5 million.