Educating prescribers is a strategy to reduce prescription errors in hospitals. The present systematic review gives an overview of original research papers on the education of prescribers and reporting outcomes on (potential) patient harm.Methods
A search of the databases Embase and Medline, using the Ovid interface, was performed. Research on the effect of physician education in order to prevent medication-related problems in inpatients, and on reporting original data and outcomes on prescribing errors and/or (potential) patient harm, was included. The assessment of methodological quality and risk of bias was performed using the Methodological Index for Non-Randomized studies (MINORS) checklist and the suggested risk of bias criteria for Effective Practice and Organization of Care (EPOC) reviews.Results
Eight studies investigated an intervention on education alone, and in seven studies education was the main part of a multifaceted intervention. All studies were small and had short follow-up periods. The educational programmes varied and were given to physicians of different specialties and levels of experience. Most studies reported intermediate process parameters as the outcome. The risk of performance and reporting bias were high.Conclusion
All included studies suffered from poor methodology. The majority, especially studies in which education was part of a multifaceted intervention, reported effectiveness on intermediate outcome markers as prescription errors and potential adverse drug events. However, we found no firm evidence that educating prescribers in the hospital leads to a decrease in patient harm. Further work is needed to develop educational programmes, accompanied by more high-quality research with outcomes on the improvement of patient care.