Am J Health Syst Pharm. 2021 Jul 20:zxab278. doi: 10.1093/ajhp/zxab278. Online ahead of print.
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PURPOSE: The objective of this study was to implement a standardized process across health systems to determine the prevalence and clinical relevance of prescribing errors intercepted by pharmacists.
METHODS: This prospective, multicenter, observational study was conducted across 11 hospitals. Pharmacist-intercepted prescribing errors were collected during inpatient order verification over 6 consecutive weeks utilizing a standardized documentation process. The potential harm of each error was evaluated using a modified National Coordinating Council for Medication Error Reporting and Prevention (NCC-MERP) index with physician validation, and errors were stratified into those with potentially low, serious, or life-threatening harm. Endpoints included the median error rate per 1,000 patient days, error type, and potential harm with correlating cost avoidance.
RESULTS: Pharmacists intervened on 7,187 errors, resulting in a mean error rate of 39 errors per 1,000 patient days. Among the errors, 46.6% (n = 3,349) were determined to have potentially serious consequences and 2.4% (n = 175) could have been life-threatening if not intercepted. This equates to $874,000 in avoided cost. The top 3 error types occurring with the highest frequency were "wrong dose/rate/frequency" (n = 2,298, 32.0%), "duplicate therapy" (n = 1,431, 19.9%), and "wrong timing" (n = 960, 13.4%). "Wrong dose/rate/frequency" (n = 49, 28%), "duplicate therapy" (n = 26, 14.9%), and "drug-disease interaction" (n = 24, 13.7%) errors occurred with the highest frequency among errors with potential for life-threatening harm. "Wrong dose/rate/frequency" (n = 1,028, 30.7%), "wrong timing" (n = 573, 17.1%), and "duplicate therapy" (n = 482, 14.4%) errors occurred with the highest frequency among errors with potentially serious harm.
CONCLUSION: Documentation of pharmacist intervention on prescribing errors via a standardized process creates a platform for multicenter analysis of prescribing error trends and an opportunity for development of system-wide solutions to reduce potential harm from prescribing errors.