The Department of Health would like to see serious prescribing errors reduced by 40% by 2005. Little is currently known about prescribing errors made by psychiatrists. The aim of this study was to describe prescribing errors within psychiatry by analysing interventions made by pharmacists. Members of the SouthEast Thames Psychiatric Pharmacists' Network were asked to record details of prescribing errors made in their trusts during the month of May 2002.
Five hundred and seventy-nine errors were reported during the study period. The majority of errors were due to clerical oversights or failure to apply clinical knowledge. In 63 cases (11%), the error could have resulted in a serious outcome.
Prescribing errors are a daily occurrence in Mental HealthTrusts, and a potentially serious error is likely to occur on a weekly basis in an average trust. Steps need to be taken to minimise the chances of errors occurring.
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