Context: Avoidable drug-related problems (DRPs) cause substantial morbidity, mortality and costs. As most prescription errors are committed by recently graduated doctors, undergraduate training should specifically address DRPs.
Objectives: This study set out to investigate whether a DRP teaching module can reduce prescription errors made by advanced medical students in varying clinical contexts.
Methods: A total of 74 Year 5 medical students (mean age 25 +/- 3 years; 24 men, 50 women) participated in a randomised controlled crossover study. Students filled in patients' prescription charts before and after a special DRP training module and a control intervention. The 1-week training module comprised a seminar on common prescription errors, a prescribing exercise with a standardised paper case patient, drafting of inoperative prescription charts for real patients and discussions with a lecturer. During the observation points, prescription charts for standardised patient cases in different clinical contexts had to be completed. These prescription charts were subsequently analysed by two independent raters using a checklist for common prescription errors.
Results: Prior to training, students committed a mean of 69 +/- 12% of the potential prescription errors. This decreased to 29 +/- 15% after DRP training (P < 0.001).
Conclusions: Prescription errors can be significantly reduced in a relatively brief training time by implementing a specific DRP teaching module.