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Prevalence and risk factors for modified prescriptions in an Irish community pharmacy


Little research exists of rates of prescribing errors and prescription modifications, or risk factors for same, in Ireland.


A cross-sectional study was performed to examine prescriptions dispensed in a community pharmacy over a period of 5 weeks from November 19 to December 21 2012.


In total, 866 prescriptions were examined. The overall prevalence of prescription modifications was 17.9% (155/866), with a mean of 31 modifications per week. Prescription only medicines (POM) comprised 147 (94.8%) of the modifications, 128 (87.1%) of which concerned a prescription error requiring a simple clerical clarification before dispensing could occur, with the remaining 19 (12.9%; average of 3.8 per week) potentially having clinical consequences if left unaltered. Half (51%) of all POM modifications occurred through consultation with the patient or their representative. The following factors were associated with increased risk of POM modifications: being a female patient (OR = 1.605, 95% CI 1.104-2.333, p = 0.013) and being prescribed drugs in the following therapeutic areas: musculo-skeletal (OR = 1.906, 95% CI 1.023-3.551, p = 0.042) and genito urinary system and sex hormones (OR = 3.691, 95% CI 2.255-6.042, p< 0.001). Multivariate analysis showed these were significant independent determinants of POM modifications, remaining so after adjustment.


The majority of prescribing errors modified involved non-serious clerical errors. However an average of 3.8 POM prescriptions with potential clinical consequences were modified weekly.

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This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

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Obasi, S., Tinsley, A. & Doyle, F. Prevalence and risk factors for modified prescriptions in an Irish community pharmacy. BMC Proc 9 (Suppl 1), A48 (2015).

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