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New report shows room for improvement in GP prescribing

A major multi university study of GP prescribing has found that while the vast majority of prescriptions written by family doctors are appropriate and effectively monitored, around 1 in 20 contain an error. The research team, led by the University of Nottingham and including Professor Nick Barber and Professor Bryony Dean Franklin from UCL School of Pharmacy found that where there were errors, most were classed as mild or moderate, but around 1 in every 550 prescription items was judged to contain a serious error. The most common errors were missing information on dosage, prescribing an incorrect dosage, and failing to ensure that patients got necessary monitoring through blood tests.

The research, commissioned by the General Medical Council (GMC), is the largest-scale study of its kind. It provides an important insight into how errors in prescribing come about. Researchers say improvements can be made to reduce the error rate. The research recommends a greater role for pharmacists in supporting GPs, better use of computer systems and extra emphasis on prescribing in GP training.

Commenting on the research, Professor Sir Peter Rubin, Chair of the General Medical Council, said: ‘GPs are typically very busy, so we have to ensure they can give prescribing the priority it needs. Using effective computer systems to ensure potential errors are flagged and patients are monitored correctly is a very important way to minimise errors. Doctors and patients could also benefit from greater involvement from pharmacists in supporting prescribing and monitoring. We will be leading discussions with relevant organisations, including the RCGP and the CQC, and the Chief Pharmacist in the Department of Health, to ensure that our findings are translated into actions that help protect patients.’

The full research report is available from the GMC website

Page last modified on 11 jul 13 15:22