Prescription-writing patterns and errors in a family medicine residency program

J Fam Pract. 1989 Sep;29(3):290-5.


Copies of 1814 prescriptions written by 20 residents were reviewed to determine prescribing patterns and the incidence of prescription-writing errors. An average of 0.69 prescriptions were written per patient visit at an average cost (to the pharmacist) of $13.35. Over one third of all prescriptions were written using the generic name, and "dispense as written" was specified on only 3.25%. On average, 21% (n = 373) of all prescriptions collected contained at least one prescription-writing error. Errors were characterized as omissions (6%), unfulfilled legal requirements (1%), incomplete directions (1%), dose or direction errors (3%), unclear quantity to be dispensed (3%), or prescriptions written for nonprescription products (5%). A correct diagnosis and treatment plan can be undermined by a written prescription that is incorrect or miscommunicates the intention of the prescriber.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Drug Prescriptions / standards*
  • Drug Utilization / statistics & numerical data
  • Family Practice / education*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internship and Residency / standards*
  • Male
  • Medication Errors / statistics & numerical data*
  • Middle Aged
  • South Carolina
  • Writing