Impact of a focussed teaching programme on practical prescribing skills among final year medical students

Br J Clin Pharmacol. 2011 Jan;71(1):29-33. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2125.2010.03808.x.


What is already known about this subject: Medication errors, and particularly prescribing errors, are common in UK hospitals. Junior doctors make the majority of prescribing errors. Deficiencies in prescribing education and training have been closely linked to the high frequency of medication errors.

What this study adds: Focussed prescribing teaching can lead to an improvement in prescribing ability. Prescribing confidence can be significantly improved through education. Education is insufficient alone in eradicating prescribing errors.

Aim: To assess the impact of prescribing teaching on final year medical students.

Methods: Students randomly allocated to two hospitals completed a prescribing assessment. Prescribing teaching was delivered to the intervention group while no additional teaching was provided for the control group. All students then completed a second prescribing assessment.

Results: Teaching improved the assessment score: mean assessment 2 vs. 1, 70% vs. 62%, P= 0.007; allergy documentation: 98% vs. 74%, P= 0.0001; and confidence. However, 30% of prescriptions continued to include prescribing errors.

Conclusion: Medical students make significant errors in prescribing. Teaching improves ability and confidence but is insufficient alone in eradicating errors.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Competence / standards*
  • Drug Prescriptions / standards*
  • Education, Medical, Undergraduate / standards*
  • England
  • Humans
  • Medication Errors / prevention & control*
  • Students, Medical