Background: Prescription writing errors can significantly impact the pediatric population. Aim: To audit the physicians’ prescription writing pattern for pediatric outpatients in primary healthcare centers in Saudi Arabia. Objective: Evaluating the practice of prescription writing based on the World Health Organization (WHO) recommendation, to assess medication errors and the communication gap between the prescriber, pharmacist and the patient. Methods: A cross-sectional study was carried out in randomly selected primary healthcare centers in Jazan. Data was recorded from 950 prescriptions available with caregivers of pediatric patients visiting the primary healthcare centers between August to December 2017. Data were evaluated as per the core prescribing indicators of WHO. Results: The average number of drugs per prescription were 2.30, and information about patients’ age (54.3 %), weight (73.7 %), diagnosis (28.8 %), prescriber’s name (6.1 %), signature (3.4 %), refill information (97.8 %), regimen of therapy (34.8 %), strength of unit dosage forms (3.2 %), dose information (5.0 %), and instructions (6.2 %) was missing. The number of prescribed generic medications were 53.6 %. Overall, 58.9 % of collected prescriptions contained antibiotics and the most dispensed classes were penicillin (72.5 %), followed by cephalosporins (12.40 %). Conclusion: The study affirmed the lapses of several vital components in prescriptions. Updating prescription writing according to WHO guidelines and usage of newer technologies to generate orders can minimize prescribing and dispensing errors. The outcomes of the study strongly suggests the need of pharmacists intervention in reducing prescription-related errors through the practice of pharmaceutical care.
Key words: Primary healthcare centers, Prescribing pattern, Pediatric, Outpatient, Saudi Arabia.