International Journal of Clinical Pharmacy

, Volume 35, Issue 4, pp 542–545 | Cite as

Exploring health professionals’ experiences of medication errors in Saudi Arabia

  • Mansour Tobaiqy
  • Derek StewartEmail author
Short Research Report


Background There is a paucity of literature originating from the Middle East on medication errors. Objective To explore the experiences of healthcare professionals around medication errors and medication error reporting. Setting Saudi Arabia. Method Questionnaire survey of those attending medication error continuing education sessions. Main outcome measures Experiences of medication errors in terms of number, type and severity in the preceding 12 months; barriers to reporting errors to health authorities; potential strategies to improve error reporting. Results Sixty-one (61/106, 57.5 %) questionnaires were completed. Thirty-five respondents (57.3 %) reported observing 51 errors during the preceding 12 months. Thirty-five errors (68.6 %) were described: wrong medication prescribed, dispensed or administered (11, 31.4 %); wrong dose prescribed (9, 25.7 %); inappropriate prescribing (issues of drug selection, monitoring) (9, 25.7 %); inappropriate route of administration (2), prescription duplication (2) and equipment failure (2). Patient outcomes resulting from these errors were described by the respondents as ‘caused patient harm’ in 14 instances. Three key barriers to reporting were: lack of awareness of the reporting policy; workload and time constraints associated with reporting; and unavailability of the reporting form. Conclusion Findings indicate a potential need to review medication error reporting systems in Saudi Arabia to heighten health professional awareness and improve the reporting culture.


Continuing education Medication errors Patient safety Questionnaire Saudi Arabia 



We acknowledge the Ministry of Health and the Department of Health Directorate Affairs in KSA for reviewing and supporting this research. We also thank all health professionals in the seven hospitals who participated in this research.


The research was funded by the Ministry of Health and the Department of Health Directorate Affairs in KSA.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest to declare.


  1. 1.
    Ferner RE, Aronson JK. Clarification of terminology in medication errors: definitions and classification. Drug Saf. 2006;29:1011–22.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Tully MP. Prescribing errors in hospital practice. Brit J Clin Pharm. 2012;74:668–75.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Lewis PJ, Dornan T, Taylor D, Tully MP, Wass V, Ashcroft DM. Prevalence, incidence and nature of prescribing errors in hospital inpatients: a systematic review. Drug Saf. 2009;32:379–89.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    NHS Direct Patient Safety Agency Quarterly Data Workbooks, available from Accessed February 2013.
  5. 5.
    Ross S, Bond C, Rothnie H, Thomas S, MacLeod MJ. What is the scale of prescribing errors committed by junior doctors? A systematic review. Brit J Clin Pharm. 2009;67:629–40.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Uribe CL, Schweikhart SB, Pathak DS, Dow M, Marsh GB. Perceived barriers to medical error reporting; an exploratory investigation. J Health Manag. 2002;47:263–80.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Alsulami Z, Conroy S, Choonara I. Medication errors in the Middle East countries: a systematic review of the literature. Eur J Clin Pharm. 2013;69:995–1008.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    World Health Organization. The multi-professional patient safety curriculum guide. Accessed February 2013.
  9. 9.
    Dudas RA, Bundy DG, Miller MR, Barone M. Can teaching medical students to investigate medication errors change their attitudes towards patient safety? BMJ Qual Saf. 2011;20:319–25.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Galt KA, Paschal KA, O’Brien RL, McQuillan RJ, Graves JK, Harris B, et al. Description and evaluation of an interprofessional patient safety course for health professions and related sciences students. J Patient Saf. 2006;2:207–16.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Ministry of Health, Patient Safety DepartmentThe Maternity and Children’s HospitalJeddahKingdom of Saudi Arabia
  2. 2.School of Pharmacy and Life SciencesRobert Gordon UniversityAberdeenUK

Personalised recommendations