Aims: Prescribing errors occur frequently, especially among junior doctors. Our aim was to investigate prescribing errors made by final-year medical students. Information on these errors can help to improve education on and assessment of clinical pharmacotherapy (CPT). Methods: This was a retrospective cohort study amongst final-year medical students at Erasmus Medical Centre, The Netherlands. Errors made in the final prescribing assessment were analysed. Errors were categorized by type, possible consequence and possibility of reaching the patient in real life. Results: A total of 381 students wrote 1502 analysable prescriptions. Forty per cent of these contained at least one error, and 54% of errors were of the inadequate information type. The rating of prescriptions for children was lower than for other question categories (P = <.001). Fifty per cent of errors were classified as “would have reached the patient but would not have had the potential to cause harm”. In total, 253 (29%) errors would not have been intercepted by an electronic prescribing system or a pharmacist. Ten (4%) of these would probably have caused harm in the patient. Conclusions: There is a high rate of errors in prescriptions written by final-year medical students. Most errors were of the inadequate information type, indicating that students had difficulties determining the content and amount of information needed to make treatment successful. Prescriptions for children contained most errors. Curricula could be improved by offering more case-based CPT education, focusing on the practical issues of prescribing, especially for paediatric cases, and offering more practice time for prescribing during clerkships.
Bibliographical notePublisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Authors. British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of British Pharmacological Society.