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Saudi Pharm J. 2013 Apr;21(2):159-64. doi: 10.1016/j.jsps.2012.07.005. Epub 2012 Aug 8.

Medication safety practices in hospitals: A national survey in Saudi Arabia.

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Medication Safety Research Chair and Department of Clinical Pharmacy, College of Pharmacy, King Saud University, Saudi Arabia.



Medication errors in hospitals are a worldwide concern. The World Health Organization has recommended the implementation of basic applications in healthcare systems to improve medication safety, but it is largely unknown whether these recommendations are adhered to by hospitals. We assessed the presence of core medication safety practices in Saudi Arabian hospitals.


We developed and validated a survey to assess medication safety practices in hospitals. Major headings included Look-Alike Sound-Alike (LASA) medications, control of concentrated electrolyte solutions, transitions in care, information technology, drug information and other medication safety practices. Trained pharmacists visited samples of hospitals from all regions of Saudi Arabia.


Seventy-eight hospitals were surveyed. Only 30% of the hospitals had a medication safety committee and 9% of hospitals had a medication safety officer. Only 33% of hospitals had a list of LASA medications and 50% had a list of error-prone abbreviations. Concentrated electrolytes were available in floor stock in 60% of the hospitals. No hospital involved pharmacists in obtaining medication histories and only 37% of the hospitals provided a medication list to the patients at discharge. While 61% of hospitals used a computer system in their pharmacy to enter prescriptions, only 29% of these hospitals required entry of patient's allergies before entering a drug order.


Core practices to improve medication safety were not implemented in many hospitals in Saudi Arabia. In developing countries, an effort must be made at the national level to increase the adoption of such practices.


Hospitals; Medication safety; Saudi Arabia

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