Medication error identification rates by pharmacy, medical, and nursing students

Am J Pharm Educ. 2011 Mar 10;75(2):24. doi: 10.5688/ajpe75224.


Objective: To assess and compare prescribing error-identification rates by health professional students.

Methods: Medical, pharmacy, and nursing students were asked to complete a questionnaire on which they evaluated the accuracy of 3 prescriptions and indicated the type of error found, if any. The number of correctly identified prescribing errors and the number of correct types of errors identified were compared and error identification rates for each group were calculated.

Results: One hundred seventy-five questionnaires were returned (87% response rate). Pharmacy students had a significantly higher error-identification rate than medical and nursing students (p < 0.001). No significant differences were found between medical and nursing students (p = 0.88). Compared to medical students, pharmacy students more often were able to identify correctly the error type for each prescription (p < 0.001; p = 0.023; p = 0.001).

Conclusions: Of the 3 student groups, pharmacy students demonstrated a significantly higher error-identification rate, which may be associated with the greater number of pharmacology and pharmacotherapeutics course hours that pharmacy students complete.

Keywords: medication error; prescription; simulation.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Humans
  • Medication Errors / prevention & control
  • Medication Errors / statistics & numerical data*
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians' / standards
  • Prospective Studies
  • Students, Medical*
  • Students, Nursing*
  • Students, Pharmacy*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult