Prescription quality in an acute medical ward

Nayef A Alyamani, Yvonne Hopf, David J Williams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose Prescribing is an effective and economical means of delivering health care. The aim of this study is to assess the quality of prescriptions in an Acute Medical Assessment Unit (AMAU) at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary (ARI).

Methods Prescription data were collected from all available medication charts of patients admitted to the ward over a 2-week period. Prescription quality indicators were divided into two categories: prescription chart related (e.g. complete patient information and absence of drug-drug interactions (DDIs)) and medication related (e.g. legibility of handwriting, generic prescribing and adherence to hospital's formulary).

Results Patient identifiers were omitted in 4% (n = 8) of the medication charts included in assessing prescribing quality. Patient allergies were omitted in 36% (n = 76) of charts. At least one DDI was detected in 26% (n = 55) of the charts. The mean number of medications prescribed per patient was seven (95%CI, 6.53-7.65). The median number of medication-related prescribing errors per medication chart was two (interquartile range (IQR), 1-3). The distribution of these errors was significantly higher in charts with five or more medications (p <0.001).

Conclusion This study demonstrates a relatively acceptable level of prescription quality compared to the published literature. However, the number of DDIs and level of allergy documentation are of concern emphasising the need for continued education in this field. Copyright (C) 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1158-1165
Number of pages8
JournalPharmacoepidemiology and Drug Safety
Issue number12
Early online date10 Aug 2009
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2009


  • aged
  • drug interactions
  • drug prescriptions
  • female
  • hospital units
  • hospitals, teaching
  • humans
  • male
  • medical records systems, computerized
  • medication errors
  • middle aged
  • physician's practice patterns
  • quality of health care
  • physician order entry
  • impact
  • indicators
  • inpatient prescribing
  • prevention
  • prescribing errors
  • prescription quality


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