Hospital prescribing errors: epidemiological assessment of predictors

Br J Clin Pharmacol. 2002 Mar;53(3):326-31. doi: 10.1046/j.0306-5251.2001.bjcp1558.doc.x.


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.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Dosage Forms
  • Drug Prescriptions / statistics & numerical data*
  • Hospitals, Teaching / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Medication Errors / statistics & numerical data*
  • Retrospective Studies


  • Dosage Forms