Objective: To determine the impact of a clinical pharmacist on detection and prevention of prescription errors at the nephrology ward of a referral hospital.
Setting: Nephrology ward of a major referral hospital in Southern Iran.
Method: During a 4-month period, a clinical pharmacist was assigned to review medication order sheets and drug orders three times a week at the nephrology ward. Besides chart review, the clinical pharmacist participated in medical rounds once a week. The occurrence of prescribing errors, and related harm was determined on hospitalized patients in this ward during the 4 month period. When an error was detected, intervention was made after agreement of the attending physician.
Main outcome measures: Number and types of prescribing errors, level of harm, and number of interventions were determined.
Results: Seventy six patient charts were reviewed during the 4-month period. A total of 818 medications were ordered in these patients. Eighty six prescribing errors were detected in 46 hospital admissions. The mean age of the patients was 47.7 +/- 17.2. Fifty five percent were male while 45% were female. Different types of prescribing errors and their frequencies were as follows: wrong frequency (37.2%), wrong drug selection (19.8%), overdose (12.8%), failure to discontinue (10.5%), failure to order (7 %), under- dose (3.5%), wrong time (3.5%), monitoring (3.5%), wrong route (1.2%), and drug interaction (1.2 %). The attending physician agreed to 96.5% of the prescription errors detected, and interventions were made. Although 89.5% of the detected errors caused no harm, 4(4.7%) of the errors increased the need for monitoring, 2 (2.3%) increased length of stay, and 2 (2.3%) led to permanent patient harm.
Conclusion: presence of a clinical pharmacist at the nephrology ward helps in early detection of prescription errors, and therefore potential prevention of negative consequences due to drug administration.