Researchers from the United States have identified and characterised anticoagulation prescribing errors among patients discharged from emergency departments. A retrospective study assessing 797 anticoagulation prescriptions written between 2015 and 2018 identified errors in 40.3% of prescriptions. Errors were primarily due to dosage error for the indication (22.4%), dose adjustment errors in patient-specific considerations (21.2%) and errors in the amount prescribed (20.7%).  Refills were written for 35.7% of these prescriptions, and 0.6% of identified errors resulted in patient readmission. The type of prescriber had a significant impact on the prescription outcome; those written by non-emergency clinicians contained a higher proportion of errors compared to prescriptions written by attending physicians, emergency medicine residents and advanced practice providers (P < 0.001). These findings suggest further development of targeted strategies in emergency departments, a setting well known to be at high risk for medication errors, are required to reduce the incidence of prescribing errors for patients being discharged. Details of the study, published in the Journal of the American College of Clinical Pharmacy, can be viewed here.

Contributed by Isabella Singh, Australian Medication Safety Services Associate