New medicine management system could reduce drug prescription errors

System devised by pharmacists at Trinity College Dublin

Drug prescription errors that put hospital patients at risk can be slashed using a better medicine management system devised by pharmacists at Trinity College Dublin.

The new technique completely eliminated the most dangerous errors, those that can be severely harmful to patients, the researchers say in a study. And general medication errors can be reduced by 80 per cent.

The approach involves a much higher degree of collaboration between doctors, pharmacists and patients, said Dr Tamasine Grimes, associate professor in practice of pharmacy in Trinity's school of pharmacy. She was the principal investigator for the research study.

The approach ensures that doctors and pharmacists work more closely, from the arrival of a patient in hospital, she said. "It means the pharmacist works collaboratively with the doctor all the way through from admission to discharge," Dr Grimes said.


Typical medication errors involve leaving out a necessary drug, adding a medication that should not be present or providing a mediation at the wrong dose. A small number of such errors can cause serious harm.

The approach developed by Dr Grimes’s group eliminated serious errors completely.

Dick Ahlstrom

Dick Ahlstrom

Dick Ahlstrom, a contributor to The Irish Times, is the newspaper's former Science Editor.