OBJECTIVES: To evaluate the effectiveness of a pharmacist-led educational intervention to reduce the use of high-risk abbreviations (HRAs) by healthcare professionals.
DESIGN: Quasi-experimental study consisting of a single group before-and-after study design.
SETTING: A public emergency hospital in Mecca, Saudi Arabia.
PARTICIPANTS: 660 (preintervention) and then 498 (postintervention) handwritten physician orders, medication administration records (MRAs) and pharmacy dispensing sheets of 482 and 388 patients, respectively, from emergency wards, inpatient settings and the pharmacy department were reviewed.
INTERVENTION: The intervention consisted of a series of interactive lectures delivered by an experienced clinical pharmacist to all hospital staff members and dissemination of educational tools (flash cards, printed list of HRAs, awareness posters) designed in line with the recommendations of the Institute for Safe Medical Practices and the US Food and Drug Administration. The duration of intervention was from April to May 2011.
MAIN OUTCOME: Reduction in the incidence of HRAs use from the preintervention to postintervention study period.
FINDINGS: The five most common abbreviations recorded prior to the interventions were 'IJ for injection' (28.6%), 'SC for subcutaneous' (17.4%), drug name and dose running together (9.7%), 'OD for once daily' (5.8%) and 'D/C for discharge' (4.3%). The incidence of the use of HRAs was highest in discharge prescriptions and dispensing records (72.7%) followed by prescriptions from in-patient wards (47.3%). After the intervention, the overall incidence of HRA was significantly reduced by 52% (ie, 53.6% vs 25.5%; p=0.001). In addition, there was a statistically significant reduction in the incidence of HRAs across all three settings: the pharmacy department (72.7% vs 39.3%), inpatient settings (47.3% vs 23.3%) and emergency wards (40.9% vs 10.7%).
CONCLUSIONS: Pharmacist-led educational interventions can significantly reduce the use of HRAs by healthcare providers. Future research should investigate the long-term effectiveness of such educational interventions through a randomised controlled trial.
* Title and MeSH Headings from MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine.