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This study sought to determine the completeness and congruence of records for drugs ordered and received by outpatients. The setting was a large outpatient medical facility that was part of a large multispecialty hospital. It was found that a listing of current drug orders (prepared by physicians) and a listing of current prescription drugs consumed (prepared from pharmacy drug profiles) each agreed 73 per cent of the time with a list of 107 prescription drugs actually consumed by 26 study patients. Lists were compared based on drug name, strength and directions for use. Further, the physician and pharmacy lists correlated with one another 70 per cent of the time, indicating a substantial degree of inconsistent as well as incomplete drug records within the same setting. In another comparison involving medical chart drug notations and pharmacy drug profiles, a complete match or drug name, strength and directions for use occurred in 39 per cent of the cases, while a match on drug name only occurred 64 per cent of the time. The highest degree of congruence occurred between hospital discharge medication notes and outpatient drug profile records. Based on the results of this study, the common assumption that drug records in such settings are congruent and complete appears unwarranted.