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Medication prescribing errors in a pediatric inpatient tertiary care setting in Saudi Arabia

Majed I Al-Jeraisy1, Menyfah Q Alanazi2 and Mostafa A Abolfotouh1*

Author Affiliations

1 King Abdullah International Medical Research Center, King Saud Bin-Abdulaziz University for Health Sciences, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

2 Drug Policy & Economic Center, King Abdulaziz Medical City, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

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BMC Research Notes 2011, 4:294  doi:10.1186/1756-0500-4-294

Published: 14 August 2011



Medication errors (MEs) are among the most common types of medical errors and one of the most common and preventable causes of iatrogenic injuries. The aims of the present study were; (i) to determine the incidence and types of medication prescribing errors (MPEs), and (ii) to identify some potential risk factors in a pediatric inpatient tertiary care setting in Saudi Arabia.


A five-week retrospective cohort study identified medication errors in the general pediatric ward and pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) at King Abdulaziz Medical City (KAMC) through the physical inspection of physician medication orders and reviews of patients' files. Out of the 2,380 orders examined, the overall error rate was 56 per 100 medication orders (95% CI: 54.2%, 57.8%). Dose errors were the most prevalent (22.1%). These were followed by route errors (12.0%), errors in clarity (11.4%) and frequency errors (5.4%). Other types of errors were incompatibility (1.9%), incorrect drug selection (1.7%) and duplicate therapy (1%). The majority of orders (81.8%) had one or more abbreviations. Error rates were highest in prescriptions for electrolytes (17.17%), antibiotics (13.72%) and bronchodilators (12.97%). Medication prescription errors occurred more frequently in males (64.5%), infants (44.5%) and for medications with an intravenous route of administration (50.2%). Approximately one third of the errors occurred in the PICU (33.9%).


The incidence of MPEs was significantly high. Large-scale prospective studies are recommended to determine the extent and outcome of medication errors in pediatric hospitals in Saudi Arabia.

medication errors; prescriptions; pediatric; in-patient; Saudi Arabia