Prescription errors in a tertiary care government hospital of eastern India: a preinterventional prospective study

Jeetendra Kumar, Subhash Chandra, Hemant K. Sinha


Background: Prescription errors are known to exert various detrimental effects to both the patient and the community. They are the commonest form of preventable medication errors. However, the concerned data was deficient for eastern part of our province due to inadequate efforts made in this area. This study therefore was carried out to generate the baseline data on the nature and extent of prescription errors prevalent in this part of our country so as to give remedial messages.

Methods: A pharmacy based cross sectional descriptive study of 731 randomly selected prescriptions of a government tertiary care hospital was done in a prospective manner. They were investigated for the legibility, core elements of a prescription and overall use of abbreviations.

Results: The total number of prescription errors were7626. The drug related errors constituted 65.72% and prescriber`s related error constituted 34.28% of the total errors. Errors of omission were 77.72% and that of commission were 22.28%. 11.9% prescriptions were illegible. The information, instructions and warnings were not mentioned on 72.09% prescriptions. Both the errors of omission and errors of commission were observed for strength of the nearly half of the prescribed medications. The route of administration and duration of treatment were the two most frequently omitted errors. Use of unauthorized abbreviations was also exercised for 28.18% of the prescribed medications.

Conclusions: Prescription errors of different types are common in our hospital. Prescribers need their special attention to take care the legibility of prescription, the use of authorized abbreviation, the route and duration of administration. The concept of computerized prescription can be adopted as intervention to minimise these errors.


Government hospital, Legibility of prescription, Prescription errors, Tertiary care

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