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Impact of a standard medication chart on prescribing errors: a before-and-after audit
  1. I D Coombes1,2,
  2. D A Stowasser1,2,
  3. C Reid1,
  4. C A Mitchell1,3
  1. 1
    Safe Medication Practice Unit, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
  2. 2
    School of Pharmacy, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
  3. 3
    School of Medicine, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Ian Coombes, Safe Medication Practice Unit, Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital, Level 13, Block 7, Herston Rd, Brisbane, QLD 4006, Australia; ian_coombes{at}


Objectives: (1) To develop and implement a standard medication chart, for recording prescribing (medication orders) and administration of medication in public hospitals in Queensland. (2) To assess the chart’s impact on the frequency and type of prescribing errors, adverse drug reaction (ADR) documentation and safety of warfarin prescribing. (3) To use the chart to facilitate safe medication management training.

Design, setting and participants: The medication chart was developed through a process of incident analysis and work practice mapping by a multidisciplinary collaborative. Observational audits by nurse and pharmacist pairs, of all available prescriptions before and after introduction of the standard medication chart, were undertaken in five sites.

Results: Similar numbers of both patients (730 pre-implementation and 751 post-implementation; orders, 9772 before and 10 352 after) were observed. The prescribing error rate decreased from 20.0% of orders per patient before to 15.8% after (Mann–Whitney U test, p = 0.03). Previous ADRs were not documented for 19.5% of 185 patients before and 11.2% of 197 patients after (χ2, p = 0.032). Prescribing errors involving selection of a drug to which a patient had had a previous ADR decreased from 11.3% of patients before to 4.6% after (χ2, p = 0.021). International normalised ratios (INRs) >5 decreased from 1.9% of 14 405 INRs in the 12 months before to 1.45% of 15 090 INRs after (χ2, p = 0.004). After minor modifications, the chart was introduced into all hospitals statewide, which enabled standardised medication training and safer rotation of staff. The chart also formed the basis for the National Inpatient Medication Chart.

Conclusion: Introduction of a standard revised medication chart significantly reduced the frequency of prescribing errors, improved ADR documentation and decreased the potential risks associated with warfarin management. The standard chart has enabled uniform training in medicine management.

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  • Funding This was a component of Queensland Health Safe Medication Practice Program.

  • Competing interests None.

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