Noncompliance with Prescription Writing Requirements and Prescribing Errors in an Outpatient Department
New prescriptions received by an outpatient pharmacy department of a teaching hospital were audited retrospectively for noncompliance with prescription writing requirements as well as to identify the types of prescribing errors. Of the 397 prescriptions screened in a single day, 96.7% had one or more of the legal or procedural requirements missing. These errors of omission, included prescriptions without the patient’s age, date, clinic or department where the prescription was issued, route of administration, dose and frequency of the drug to be used, strength, dosage form and quantity of drug to be supplied. Additionally, there were errors of commission involving 8.4% of the prescribed drugs. A total of 39 drug-drug interactions were identified; 15 were classified as potentially hazardous but could be overcome with careful monitoring of the patients. The results of the present study show a low compliance rate to the legal and procedural requirements in prescription writing. This indicates a need for pharmacy and medical educators to further emphasize the importance of writing clear and complete prescriptions. It also calls for the implementation of educational and monitoring programmes to bring more awareness to all concerned so as to reduce the rate of noncompliance and hence minimize the occurrence of prescribing errors.