Safe prescribing: an educational intervention for medical students

Teach Learn Med. Summer 2006;18(3):244-50. doi: 10.1207/s15328015tlm1803_10.


Background and purpose: Errors in handwritten medication orders are common and can result in patient harm. We evaluated an intervention for increasing safe prescribing by medical students.

Methods: We conducted a pre-post evaluation to evaluate a brief educational intervention to increase safe prescribing by medical students. Two 1-hr, small-group, interactive educational sessions for 3rd-year medical students were held 2 weeks apart at Washington University in St. Louis. Prescribing errors were measured with a verbal transcription test.

Results: Twenty-eight students participated. Following the intervention, the average number of error-free orders in the 10-order test increased 5-fold from 0.82 per student to 4.54 per student, and the average number of errors and dangerous errors per student decreased from 13.96 to 7.36 (p < .0001) and from 4.75 to 2.68 (p < .0001), respectively.

Conclusions: After a brief interactive educational intervention for medical students, the frequency of error-free handwritten orders increased, and prescribing errors decreased. Additional training may be required to further improve and maintain safe prescribing.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Drug Prescriptions*
  • Education, Medical*
  • Female
  • Handwriting*
  • Hospitals, Teaching
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Medication Errors / prevention & control*
  • Students, Medical*