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J Natl Med Assoc. 2004 Dec;96(12):1558-64.

Strategies to reduce medication errors in ambulatory practice.

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Fifth Street Medical Center, 1839S. El Dorado St., Stockton, CA 95206, USA.


Medication errors generally refer to mistakes made in the processes of ordering, transcribing, dispensing, administering or monitoring of pharmaceutical agents used in clinical practice. The Institute of Medicine report, To Err Is Human: Building a Safer Health System, has helped raise public awareness surrounding the issue of patient safety within our hospitals. A number of legislative and regulatory steps have resulted in hospital authorities putting in place various systems to allow for error reporting and prevention. Medication errors are being closely scrutinized as part of these hospital-based efforts. Most Americans, however, receive their healthcare in the ambulatory primary care setting. Primary care physicians are involved in the writing of several million prescriptions annually. The steps underway in our hospitals to reduce medication errors should occur concurrently with steps to increase awareness of this problem in the out-patient setting. This article provides an overview of strategies that can be adopted by primary care physicians to decrease medication errors in ambulatory practice.

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