Incidence and prevalence of prescribing errors in Saudi Arabia: A systematic study

Farah Kais Alhomoud, Ejaz Cheema, Walaa Alnemari, Hadeel Alfahmi, Faten Alhomoud

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: The increased incidence of prescribing errors has become a major health problem and is a concern for healthcare authorities across the world due to its serious medical consequences for patients. However, very little is known about prescribing errors in Saudi Arabia. Therefore, this review aims to systematically review the studies that have assessed the incidence and prevalence of prescribing errors in Saudi Arabia.

Methods: A systematic review of the literature related to prescribing errors among adults in Saudi Arabia was limited by the period from January 2005 up to April 2016, using the following databases: PubMed, Scopus and ISI Web of Science. The search strategy included studies conducted among adults 18 or over; in primary or secondary care in Saudi Arabia; that assessed handwritten prescriptions by junior or senior doctors; and that were published in the English language only. The quality of the included studies was assessed using a 13-item quality assessment tool adopted from two previous studies.

Results: Six studies met the inclusion criteria. The overall quality of the included studies was variable. Error rates varied from 7.1% to 94% for prescribing. The median error rate interquartile range (IQR) was as high as 32% (7.1-49%). Duration of the studies ranged from one day to two years. The studies included data on 259,055 prescription orders, with a number of prescription orders assessed in the studies ranging from 1582 to 240,000. The most common types of prescribing errors reported were attributed to incorrect dosage followed by incorrect strength and incorrect duration of treatment.

Conclusion: This review suggests the need to improve the prescribing skills and knowledge of prescribers in Saudi Arabia through the introduction of educational and training programmes with the aim of reducing prescribing errors.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)194-198
JournalInternational Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2016


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