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Logo of jroyalcgpracBJGP at RCGPBJGP at PubMed CentralJ R Coll Gen Pract at PubMed CentralRCGP homepage
J R Coll Gen Pract. 1978 September; 28(194): 543–545.
PMCID: PMC2158812

Errors on doctors' prescription


All prescriptions dispensed by one pharmacist during one month were examined for errors. Only 5·1 per cent of 2,237 prescription forms contained an error which meant the pharmacist had to contact the doctor. Thirty-seven per cent of prescriptions were either wholly or partly written by the receptionist. There was considerable variation between doctors and this varied from zero to 64 per cent; 4·0 per cent of prescriptions written by the doctor contained errors while those written by the receptionist were almost twice as likely (seven per cent) to do so. The majority of mistakes were obvious and trivial but five were potentially serious.

It is recommended that if doctors expect their receptionists to write prescriptions they should ensure that they are adequately trained to do so. The pharmacist can be a valued and trusted colleague who serves to protect patients from doctors' errors.

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Selected References

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  • Goldacre MJ, Loudon N, Watt B, Grant G, Loudon JD, McPherson K, Vessey MP. Epidemiology and clinical significance of cervical erosion in women attending a family planning clinic. Br Med J. 1978 Mar 25;1(6115):748–750. [PMC free article] [PubMed]

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