How to Reduce Risk of Prescribing Errors

Earlier this year, The Pharmaceutical Journal published a list of the top 10 prescribing errors in the UK. Although it reported that most of these errors resulted in “no harm,” others caused “low-to-moderate harm” or “severe harm or death.” Characterizing the errors as “relatively common but preventable,” the journal’s article also included recommendations for preventing the mistakes and case examples for each.

Based on claims data, observational research and patient safety incident reports, The Pharmaceutical Journal indicated that the top 10 prescribing errors were related to the following:

  • omissions or delays;
  • anticoagulants;
  • opioid analgesics;
  • insulin;
  • nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs;
  • drugs that require regular blood test monitoring;
  • known allergy to medicine, including antibiotics;
  • drug interactions;
  • loading doses; and
  • oxygen.

The authors concluded the following strategies were universally applicable to reducing the risk of prescribing errors. These include:

  • reviewing procedures to clarify healthcare team responsibilities;
  • confirming accuracy of the electronic medical record and ensuring alerts to possible errors related to patient risk based on age, allergy, interaction or other factor;
  • improving communication among healthcare professionals;
  • monitoring patients for medication adherence and adverse effects; and
  • providing thorough patient communication and education.

MLMIC encourages all insureds to be proactive in reducing risk related to prescription errors. In addition to reading the case examples and recommendations in the article from The Pharmaceutical Journal, physicians and other healthcare providers can review these risk management tips from MLMIC: