Objectives: To determine the rate of prescribing errors in a family medicine clinic and the subsequent impact of pharmacist-led educational and error notification interventions on prescribing errors.
Design: Single site, pre-post study design.
Setting: An outpatient academic family medicine clinic serving pediatric and adult populations in Oklahoma from March 1, 2011, through April 30, 2012.
Participants: 24 resident physicians who prescribed medications during routine outpatient visits.
Intervention: A prescribing educational program, audit and feedback methods, and weekly newsletter.
Main outcomes measure: Percentage of prescription errors and physician error rate before and after intervention among pediatric and adult populations.
Results: During the two assessment periods, 24 resident physicians wrote 2,753 prescriptions for 394 pediatric and 899 adult patients. The overall percentage of prescription errors decreased from 18.6% during March 2011 to 14.5% during April 2012 (P = 0.004). Errors were more commonly seen with prescriptions written for pediatric patients (24.9%) than for adult patients (13.9%) (P = 0.001). Individual physician error rates ranged from 5% to 36% (mean ± SD 16.5% ± 8.1). Physicians committed significantly fewer prescribing errors during the postintervention assessment period (14.9%) than during the preintervention assessment period (20.9%) (P = 0.002). Controlling for time, pediatric prescription error rates among physicians who participated in the educational intervention were 36% lower than the error rates among physicians who did not participate (rate ratio 0.64 [95% CI 0.45, 0.91], P = 0.01).
Conclusion: The pharmacist-led educational program was effective in reducing pediatric prescribing errors among resident physicians in a family medicine clinic.