Aims: To demonstrate an epidemiological method to assess predictors of prescribing errors.
Methods: A retrospective case-control study, comparing prescriptions with and without errors.
Results: Only prescriber and drug characteristics were associated with errors. Prescriber characteristics were medical specialty (e.g. orthopaedics: OR: 3.4, 95% CI 2.1, 5.4) and prescriber status (e.g. verbal orders transcribed by nursing staff: OR: 2.5, 95% CI 1.8, 3.6). Drug characteristics were dosage form (e.g. inhalation devices: OR: 4.1, 95% CI 2.6, 6.6), therapeutic area (e.g. gastrointestinal tract: OR: 1.7, 95% CI 1.2, 2.4) and continuation of preadmission treatment (Yes: OR: 1.7, 95% CI 1.3, 2.3).
Conclusions: Other hospitals could use our epidemiological framework to identify their own error predictors. Our findings suggest a focus on specific prescribers, dosage forms and therapeutic areas. We also found that prescriptions originating from general practitioners involved errors and therefore, these should be checked when patients are hospitalized.