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Purpose: To evaluate the prescription errors and their contributory factors in Punjab, Pakistan.
Methods: An observational, cross-sectional study was conducted in 12 major cities of Punjab, Pakistan. A total of 1,184 prescriptions were collected from patients using a convenient sampling method from homes, pharmacies, clinics, and hospitals. The data were presented in frequency and percentage using descriptive statistics. To determine the association between the variables assessed, Chi-square (X2) test was used.
Results: A total of 1,184 prescriptions were analyzed; 432 of them (36.5 %) were from prescribers who are graduate degree holders, and 752 (63.5 %) from prescribers who are post-graduate degree holders. The most commonly missing parameters in the prescriptions were the age of the patients (835 representing 29.4 %), signatures of the prescribers (755 representing 26.5 %), and prefix (622 representing 21.9 %). The number of prescription errors was significantly correlated to prescriber qualification (p = 0.001). The prescription errors were more common in age groups of prescribers: 21 - 30 years (654 representing 23.0 %), and 31 - 40 years (1,012 representing 35.6 %) (p = 0.001). The higher number of prescription errors by post-graduate prescribers working in teaching hospitals can be attributed to the higher patient load and lack of continuing medical education programs for the prescribers.
Conclusion: The government should take necessary measures for the implementation of electronic prescribing systems, and devise mechanisms for the uniform distribution of patient load amongst the prescribers working in different hospitals.
Keywords: Prescription error, Prescribers, Patient load, Continuing medical education, Electronic prescribing