Analysis of degree of errors in handwritten medication prescriptions in Rafha, Saudi Arabia

  • Maria Abdul Ghafoor Raja
  • Manal Naif Aljuraisy
  • Nawaf Mohamed Alotaibi
  • Muhammad Wahab Amjad
Keywords: Prescription errors, Prescriber, Handwriting, Drug generic name


Purpose: To assess the prevalence of handwritten prescription errors in Rafha Central Hospital in Saudi Arabia, and to determine the most predominant type of prescription error.

Methods: A cross-sectional study was carried out on randomly selected samples of hand-written prescriptions in out-patient and in-patient pharmacies of Rafha Central Hospital over a five-month period (October 2016 to February 2017). A data collection sheet specially designed for this purpose was used to collect relevant information. The collected prescriptions were analyzed for the presence of prescription errors based on prescription parameters defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) and current guidelines published in British National Formulary (BNF). Descriptive statistics and Microsoft Office were used for processing and analyzing the data collected.

Results: Overall, 1019 prescription errors were identified. More than half of the total errors (610; 60 %) were associated with missing patient's information. Moreover, the parameters related to drug and prescriber information were absent in 204 (20 %) and 5 (0.4 %) prescriptions, respectively. In addition, 200 (19 %) miscellaneous errors related to date, legible handwriting and directions for patients were identified.

Conclusion: This study discovered errors in hand-written prescriptions. A majority of the prescriptions did not adhere to accepted guidelines. The most common errors are absence of generic names of drugs, non-indication of duration of therapy or prescriber’s contact address, and absence of patient’s weight. Moreover, illegible handwriting was obvious in a substantial number of prescriptions.


Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1596-9827
print ISSN: 1596-5996