Medicines can do a lot of good but they also have the potential to cause harm. Medication errors are one of the most common causes of patient harm and prescribing accounts for a large proportion of medication errors. This evidence scan examines strategies to reduce prescribing errors.

The scan provides a rapid collation of empirical research about initiatives to reduce prescribing errors. It addresses the following questions:

  • What approaches have been used to reduce prescribing errors?
  • Have any approaches related to human factors been researched?

The scan finds that most studies about reducing prescribing errors have been undertaken in hospital. The three most commonly researched approaches are, in order of frequency: computerised tools, training to improve prescribing and expanding professional roles to identify errors.