Open Access Highly Accessed Open Badges Research article

Assessment of drug use pattern using WHO prescribing indicators at Hawassa University teaching and referral hospital, south Ethiopia: a cross-sectional study

Anteneh Assefa Desalegn

Author Affiliations

Anteneh Assefa Desalegn, Pharmacology Unit, School of Medicine, Hawassa University, Hawassa, Ethiopia

BMC Health Services Research 2013, 13:170  doi:10.1186/1472-6963-13-170

Published: 7 May 2013



To promote rational drug use in developing countries, it is important to assess drug use pattern using the World Health Organization (WHO) drug use indicators. The aim of this study was to assess the drug prescription patterns at the Medical Outpatient Pharmacy of Hawassa University Teaching and Referral Hospital, using some of the WHO core drug use indicators.


A descriptive, quantitative, and cross-sectional survey was conducted to determine the current prescribing practices at Hawassa University Teaching and Referral Hospital. The sample was selected using systematic random sampling. 1290 patient encounters were reviewed retrospectively for a 2-year period from September 2007 to September 2009. Data were collected from prescriptions and Prescription registration books retained in the pharmacy.


The average number of drugs prescribed per encounter or mean was 1.9 (SD 0.91) with a range between 1 and 4. The percentage of encounters in which an antibiotic or injection was prescribed was 58.1% (n = 749) and 38.1% (n = 491), respectively. The Percentage of drugs prescribed by generic name and from an essential drug list was 98.7% (n=2419) and 96.6% (n=2367), respectively. The most commonly prescribed forms of antibiotics were amoxicillin (16.4%), ampicillin (15%), gentamicin (14.9%) and chloramphenicol (11.6%). On the other hand, the most commonly prescribed injections were ampicillin (21.4%), cloxacillin (13.4%), crystalline penicillin (12.4%), ceftriaxon (9.8%) gentamicin (9.8%), diclofenac (9.4%), chloramphenicol 41 (8.4%) and furosemide 25 (5.1%).


On the basis of the finding of this study, the prescribing practices for antibiotic and injection shows deviation from the standard recommended by WHO. These two commonly overused and costly forms of drug therapy need to be regulated closely. Drug use evaluation should be done for some of the antibiotics to check whether they were appropriately prescribed or not. On the other hand, polypharmacy, generic prescribing and prescribing from EDL were not found to be a problem in this study. Teaching hospitals have a special responsibility to society to promote rational prescribing by their staff and, through them, the future generations of doctors.

Rational or irrational drug use; WHO core drug use indicators; Prescribing pattern