Nearly one in 10 hospital prescriptions contains a mistake, ranging from the minor to the potentially lethal, research has found.
But the study, commissioned by the General Medical Council, found very few errors would have caused serious harm.
It also found that, contrary to belief, novice doctors were no more responsible for mistakes than the more experienced.
To eliminate one area of confusion, the GMC is calling for a UK-wide standard prescription chart as exists in Wales.
The research team, led by Professor Tim Dornan of the University of Manchester, examined the issue amid rising fears inexperienced doctors were making prescription errors which could, at worst, result in a patient dying.
They examined 124,260 prescriptions across 19 hospitals – and found just under 9% contained errors.
Of these 11,077 errors, overwhelmingly intercepted and corrected before reaching the patient, about 2% contained potentially lethal instructions – such as failing to take account of a patient’s allergies.