Extent of Occurrence of Prescribing Errors in a Private Tertiary – Care Hospital in Dar es Salaam


  • V Mugoyela
  • S Mung’ong’o
  • S Mwita




Background: Correct prescription writing has a great influence on the fate of medicine therapy and health of patients. Errors in prescribing may be classified into two main types: errors of omission and errors of commission. Errors of omission are where a prescription is incomplete whereas errors of commission contain incorrect information. In the United States of America 1-2% of inpatients are at a risk of being harmed by errors in prescribing. In the United Kingdom 61% of medication errors originated in medication order writing. However little is known about prescribing errors in Tanzania. Objective: To investigate the nature and extent of errors of omission and commission in prescriptions in a tertiary-care private hospital as well as to determine which department is responsible for majority of the errors. Methodology: This was a descriptive study involving a total 450 prescriptions, which were sampled out using a systematic sampling method. Each prescription was examined for a possible prescribing error of “omission” and “commission”. Errors of omission and commission related to the prescribed medicines were recorded and medicine-medicine interactions were confirmed with standard references. The names of the departments where prescriptions originated were also recorded. Results: 99.6% of all prescriptions had at least one or more errors which involved omission of either the patient's age (2.9%), name (1.6%), weight (93.8%) or route of administration (94%), dose (5.4%), frequency (3.2%), dosage form (24.8%) and duration of treatment (14.1%). Errors of commission accounted for 3.1% of all prescribed medicine. This study has shown that 55.1% of prescribing errors originated from the outpatient polyclinic department. Conclusion: The results of this study demonstrate occurrence of errors of omission and commission in prescription writing. This calls for medical doctors and pharmacists trainers to critically address the importance of writing correct and complete prescriptions in order to minimize occurrence of medication errors.

Tanzania Medical Journal Vol. 23 (1) 2008: pp. 20-22





Original Research