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How can medical prescribing errors be avoided?


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Medical prescribing errors are easily avoidable but common events. With intricate processes in place to ensure the right medication gets prescribed, one error can jeopardize a patient’s health. Thankfully, the majority of medical prescribing errors result in minor harm to a patient. However, any harm at all needs to be addressed internally.

While medical prescribing errors are rare, there are still things medical practitioners can do to ensure they happen as infrequently as possible. So, how can medical prescribing errors be avoided?

  • Write legibly 

GPs will often get inundated with paperwork, patients, and medical referrals to organize, resulting in haste.

Quickly writing a medical prescription can result in illegible writing. The issue is, once a pharmacist receives said prescription, illegible writing is left open to interpretation. Therefore, they might issue the wrong dosage for the patient. Hopefully, this would have a minimal impact, but it could cause serious harm.

So, take your time, write legibly, and double-check your writing before you send it off.

  • Identify allergies 

Sadly, patients with known allergies or adverse reactions to drugs are exposed to harm every year. Medical professionals that ignore or neglect a patient’s medical history put them at risk of adverse reactions to prescribed drugs. 

Drug allergies should be correctly documented on all relevant medical records and defined in a clear, concise manner. If this has been done correctly and a medical prescribing error still occurs, you could face a clinical negligence claim

  • Give clear advice and instructions 

Patients in need of a prescription will often be suffering from some form of pain or discomfort. If the pain is bad, patients could be in a state of shock, resulting in a lack of concentration. 

Trying to give clear advice and instructions to someone in pain is a hard task as their attention span is limited. So, you must take your time and explain dosage, timings, and possible side effects slowly and concisely. If this is not done correctly, the chance of your patient mishearing and taking the wrong dosage is increased, thus risking their health and overall wellbeing. 

  • Check if the prescribed drugs need blood test monitoring 

Certain prescribed drugs require blood test monitoring. If the relevant drug gets prescribed, the patient needs monitoring no matter their current health and physical fitness. Failure to monitor a patient’s blood test could result in them becoming seriously ill.

If the prescribed drugs require blood test monitoring, it must be clearly stated in all medical documentation, making all medical professionals are aware. Therefore, the dosage can be altered according to blood test results, keeping the patient safe. 


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