The rates of medication errors in primary care are similar in health systems across the world, with most ranging between 6% and 8%, according to an international review
Error rates can vary between <1% and 90% if different definitions and methods are used, for example, if errors are reported following an incident or, at the other extreme, if an incomplete prescription is counted as an error.
Analysis of 33 studies in various countries found that errors were most likely to occur at the prescribing stage and that the elderly and children are most at risk.
The researchers, from the University of Hertfordshire and Merck Sharp & Dohme, also looked at the effectiveness of interventions to prevent errors in 36 studies. They conclude that interventions aimed at single stages of the medicines administration pathway are minimally effective and advocate a collaborative approach between practice and research.