Ethiopian Journal of Health Development

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Drug prescribing patterns for outpatients in three hospitals in north-west Ethiopia

Zeruesenay Desta, Teferra Abula, Asfawoseen Gebre-Yohannes, Alemayehu Worku


Background: Information about drug utilization at the out patient departments of the Hospitals in Ethiopia is scanty although a large segment of the patients are being served at the outpatient departments.

Objective: To evaluate and compare patterns of drug prescribing practiced in the outpatient departments of three hospitals.

Methods: Case notes of outpatients attending the Gondar teaching hospital (n=2023), Bahir Dar regional hospital (n=2597) and Debre Tabor rural hospital (n=1808) were reviewed retrospectively over one year period.

Results: The leading diagnoses in the three hospitals were similar and include disease of the respiratory system, gastrointestinal tract, sexually transmitted and skin. The average number of drugs per patient was 0.98 in Gondar, 1.8 in Bahir Dar and 2.2 in Debre Tabor hospitals. Antibacterials including anti-TB drugs (40-51%) and analgesics (11-49%) were the most frequently prescribed drugs in the three hospitals.

Conclusion: The average number of drugs prescribed per patent was within the acceptable range. Deviation of prescribing pattern among the outpatients possibly reflects the availability of drugs, attitude (habit) of the prescriber and diagnostic profiles and facilities. Much remains to be done to promote rational selection and use of drugs in hospitals.

[Ethiop.J.Health Dev. 2002;16(2):183-189]
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