Prescription writing is a process which transfers the therapeutic message from the prescriber to the patient through the pharmacist. Prescribing errors, drug duplication and potential drug-drug interactions (pDDI) in prescriptions lead to medication error. Assessment of the above was made in prescriptions dispensed at State Pharmaceutical Corporation (SPC), Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka.
A cross sectional study was conducted. Drugs were classified according to the WHO anatomical, therapeutic chemical classification system. A three point Likert scale, a checklist and Medscape online drug interaction checker were used to assess legibility, completeness and pDDIs respectively.
Thousand prescriptions were collected. Majority were hand written (99.8 %) and from the private sector (73 %). The most frequently prescribed substance and subgroup were atorvastatin (4 %, n = 3668) and proton pump inhibitors (7 %, n = 3668) respectively. Out of the substances prescribed from the government and private sectors, 59 and 50 % respectively were available in the national list of essential medicines, Sri Lanka. Patients address (5 %), Sri Lanka Medical Council (SLMC) registration number (35 %), route (7 %), generic name (16 %), treatment symbol (48 %), diagnosis (41 %) and refill information (6 %) were seen in less than half of the prescriptions. Most were legible with effort (65 %) and illegibility was seen in 9 %. There was significant difference in omission and/or errors of generic name (P = 0.000), dose (P = 0.000), SLMC registration number (P = 0.000), and in evidence of pDDI (P = 0.009) with regards to the sector of prescribing. The commonest subgroup involved in duplication was non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) (43 %; 56/130). There were 1376 potential drug interactions (466/887 prescriptions). Most common pair causing pDDI was aspirin with losartan (4 %, n = 1376).
Atorvastatin was the most frequently prescribed substance. Fifteen percent of the prescriptions originate from government sector. SLMC registration number and trade names were seen more in prescriptions originating from the private sector. Most prescriptions were legible with effort. NSAIDs were the commonest implicated in drug class duplication. Fifty three percent of prescriptions have pDDI.