Challenges to and the future of medication safety in Saudi Arabia: A qualitative study

Hisham Aljadhey, Mansour Adam Mahmoud, Mohamed Azmi Hassali, Alian Alrasheedy, Amjad Alahmad, Fahad Saleem, Aziz Sheikh, Michael Murray, David W Bates

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: Medication safety is a global concern among healthcare providers. However, the challenges to and the future of medication safety in Saudi Arabia have not been explored.

OBJECTIVES: We explored the perspectives of healthcare practitioners on current issues about medication safety in hospitals and community settings in Saudi Arabia in order to identify challenges to improving it and explore the future of medication safety practice.

METHODS: A total of 65 physicians, pharmacists, academics and nurses attended a one-day meeting in March 2010, designed especially for the purpose of this study. The participants were divided into nine round-table discussion sessions. Three major themes were explored in these sessions, including: major factors contributing to medication safety problems, challenges to improving medication safety practice, and participants' suggestions for improving medication safety. The round-table discussion sessions were videotaped and transcribed verbatim and analyzed by two independent researchers.

RESULTS: The round-table discussions revealed that major factors contributing to medication safety problems included unrestricted public access to medications from various hospitals and community pharmacies, communication gaps between healthcare institutions, limited use of important technologies such as computerized provider order entry, and the lack of medication safety programs in hospitals. Challenges to current medication safety practice identified by participants included underreporting of medication errors and adverse drug reactions, multilingualism and differing backgrounds of healthcare professionals, lack of communication between healthcare providers and patients, and high workloads. Suggestions for improving medication safety practices in Saudi Arabia included continuous education for healthcare professionals and competency assessment focusing on medication safety, development of a culture that encourages medication error and adverse drug reactions reporting, use of technology proven to decrease medication errors, and promotion and implementation of national patient safety initiatives.

CONCLUSIONS: Healthcare professionals have identified major challenges and opportunities for medication safety in Saudi Arabia. Policy makers and practitioners should consider these factors when designing future programs aimed at improving the safe use of medications.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)326-32
Number of pages7
JournalSaudi Pharmaceutical Journal
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2014


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