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      Interns' knowledge of clinical pharmacology and therapeutics after undergraduate and on-going internship training in Nigeria: a pilot study

      , 1 , 2 , 2 , 1

      BMC Medical Education

      BioMed Central

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          A sound knowledge of pathophysiology of a disease and clinical pharmacology and therapeutics (CPT) of a drug is required for safe and rational prescribing. The aim of this study was therefore to assess how adequately the undergraduate CPT teaching had prepared interns in Nigeria for safe and rational prescribing and retrospectively, to know how they wanted the undergraduate curriculum to be modified so as to improve appropriate prescribing. The effect of internship training on the prescribing ability of the interns was also sought.


          A total of 100 interns were randomly selected from the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), Ikeja; Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Idiaraba; General Hospital Lagos (GHL); the EKO Hospital, Ikeja; and Havana Specialist Hospital, Surulere. A structured questionnaire was the instrument of study. The questionnaire sought information about the demographics of the interns, their undergraduate CPT teaching, experience of adverse drug reactions (ADRs) and drug interactions since starting work, confidence in drug usage and, in retrospect; any perceived deficiencies in their undergraduate CPT teaching.


          The response rate was 81%. All the respondents graduated from universities in Nigeria. The ability of the interns to prescribe rationally (66, 81.4%) and safely (47, 58%) was provided by undergraduate CPT teaching. Forty two (51.8%) respondents had problems with prescription writing. The interns would likely prescribe antibiotics (71, 87.6%), nonsteroidal analgesics (66, 81.4%), diuretics (55, 67.9%), sedatives (52, 62.9%), and insulin and oral hypoglycaemics (43, 53%) with confidence and unsupervised. The higher the numbers of clinical rotations done, the more confident were the respondents to prescribe unsupervised (χ 2 = 19.98, P < 0.001). Similarly, respondents who had rotated through the four major clinical rotations and at least a special posting (χ 2 = 11.57, P < 0.001) or four major clinical rotations only (χ 2 = 11.25, P < 0.001) were significantly more confident to prescribe drugs unsupervised.


          Undergraduate CPT teaching in Nigeria appears to be deficient. Principles of rational prescribing, drug dose calculation in children and pharmacovigilance should be the focus of undergraduate CPT teaching and should be taught both theoretically and practically. Medical students and interns should be periodically assessed on prescribing knowledge and skills during their training as a means of minimizing prescribing errors.

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          Most cited references 42

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          Adverse drug reactions as cause of admission to hospital: prospective analysis of 18 820 patients.

          To ascertain the current burden of adverse drug reactions (ADRs) through a prospective analysis of all admissions to hospital. Prospective observational study. Two large general hospitals in Merseyside, England. 18 820 patients aged > 16 years admitted over six months and assessed for cause of admission. Prevalence of admissions due to an ADR, length of stay, avoidability, and outcome. There were 1225 admissions related to an ADR, giving a prevalence of 6.5%, with the ADR directly leading to the admission in 80% of cases. The median bed stay was eight days, accounting for 4% of the hospital bed capacity. The projected annual cost of such admissions to the NHS is 466m pounds sterling (706m Euros, 847m dollars). The overall fatality was 0.15%. Most reactions were either definitely or possibly avoidable. Drugs most commonly implicated in causing these admissions included low dose aspirin, diuretics, warfarin, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs other than aspirin, the most common reaction being gastrointestinal bleeding. The burden of ADRs on the NHS is high, accounting for considerable morbidity, mortality, and extra costs. Although many of the implicated drugs have proved benefit, measures need to be put into place to reduce the burden of ADRs and thereby further improve the benefit:harm ratio of the drugs.
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            Causes of prescribing errors in hospital inpatients: a prospective study.

            To prevent errors made during the prescription of drugs, we need to know why they arise. Theories of human error used to understand the causes of mistakes made in high-risk industries are being used in health-care. They have not, however, been applied to prescribing errors, which are a great cause of patient harm. Our aim was to use this approach to investigate the causes of such errors. Pharmacists at a UK teaching hospital prospectively identified 88 potentially serious prescribing errors. We interviewed the prescribers who made 44 of these, and analysed our findings with human error theory. Our results suggest that most mistakes were made because of slips in attention, or because prescribers did not apply relevant rules. Doctors identified many risk factors-work environment, workload, whether or not they were prescribing for their own patient, communication within their team, physical and mental well-being, and lack of knowledge. Organisational factors were also identified, and included inadequate training, low perceived importance of prescribing, a hierarchical medical team, and an absence of self-awareness of errors. To reduce prescribing errors, hospitals should train junior doctors in the principles of drug dosing before they start prescribing, and enforce good practice in documentation. They should also create a culture in which prescription writing is seen as important, and formally review interventions made by pharmacists, locum arrangements, and the workload of junior doctors, and make doctors aware of situations in which they are likely to commit errors.
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              Undergraduate preparation for prescribing: the views of 2413 UK medical students and recent graduates.

              To gather opinions from UK medical students and recent graduates about their undergraduate training to prescribe and their confidence about meeting the relevant competencies identified by the General Medical Council (GMC). We designed a web-based survey that was distributed to UK medical students and first year Foundation doctors (graduation years 2006-2008) via medical schools and postgraduate networks. Analysis was restricted to 2413 responses from students graduating in 2006-2008 from the 25 UK medical schools (mean 96.5 per school) with a complete undergraduate curriculum. Distinct courses and assessments in 'clinical pharmacology & therapeutics (or equivalent)' were identified by 17% and 13%, respectively, with mode of learning described most commonly as 'opportunistic learning during clinical attachments' (41%). Only 38% felt 'confident' about prescription writing and only a minority (35%) had filled in a hospital prescription chart more than three times during training. The majority (74%) felt that the amount of teaching in this area was 'too little' or 'far too little', and most tended to disagree or disagreed that their assessment 'thoroughly tested knowledge and skills' (56%). When asked if they were confident that they would be able to achieve the prescribing competencies set out by the GMC, 42% disagreed or tended to disagree, whereas only 29% agreed or tended to agree. Many respondents clearly perceived a lack of learning opportunities and assessment related to the safe and effective use of drugs and had little confidence that they would meet the competencies identified by the GMC. There is an urgent need to review undergraduate training in this area.

                Author and article information

                BMC Med Educ
                BMC Medical Education
                BioMed Central
                28 July 2009
                : 9
                : 50
                [1 ]Pharmacology Department, Lagos State University College of Medicine, P.M.B 21266, Ikeja, Lagos, Nigeria
                [2 ]Paediatric Department, Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, Ikeja, Lagos, Nigeria
                Copyright © 2009 Oshikoya et al; licensee 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.

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