GP Prescribing a good standard but improvement possible

May 2, 2012, University of Nottingham

(Medical Xpress) -- A major study of GP prescribing, led by The University of Nottingham, 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.

Researchers looking at a sample of GP practices in England found that where there were errors, most were classed as mild or moderate, but around one 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, is the largest-scale study of its kind. It provides an important insight into how errors in prescribing come about and the 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.

Professor Tony Avery of The University of Nottingham’s medical school, who led the research, said:

“Few were associated with significant risks to patients but it’s important that we do everything we can to avoid all errors. GPs must ensure they have ongoing training in prescribing, and practices should ensure they have safe and effective systems in place for repeat prescribing and monitoring. I’d also encourage doctors to share their experiences of prescribing issues both informally within their practices, and also formally where appropriate through local or national reporting systems. Prescribing is a skill, and it is one that all doctors should take time to develop and keep up-to-date.”

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, the CQC and the Chief in the Department of Health, to ensure that our findings are translated into actions that help protect patients.”

Explore further: In-house pharmacists can help GPs reduce prescribing errors by up to 50 percent

Related Stories

In-house pharmacists can help GPs reduce prescribing errors by up to 50 percent

February 20, 2012
Medication errors are common in primary care but the number of mistakes could be reduced significantly if GPs introduced an in-house pharmacist-led intervention scheme.

Commercial electronic prescribing systems can reduce medication errors in hospital patients

January 31, 2012
A study published in this week's PLoS Medicine shows that commercial electronic prescribing systems (commonly known as e-prescribing, in which prescribers use a computer to order medications for their patients through a system ...

Outpatient electronic prescribing systems don't cut out common mistakes

June 30, 2011
Outpatient electronic prescribing systems don't cut out the common mistakes made in manual systems, suggests research published online in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association (JAMIA).

Wide-reaching report finds strong support for nurse and pharmacist prescribing

May 10, 2011
Greater powers introduced by the government to enable specially trained nurses and pharmacists to prescribe medication in England have been successfully adopted, according to a new report.

Recommended for you

In most surgery patients, length of opioid prescription, number of refills spell highest risk for misuse

January 17, 2018
The possible link between physicians' opioid prescription patterns and subsequent abuse has occupied the attention of a nation in the throes of an opioid crisis looking for ways to stem what experts have dubbed an epidemic. ...

Patients receive most opioids at the doctor's office, not the ER

January 16, 2018
Around the country, state legislatures and hospitals have tightened emergency room prescribing guidelines for opioids to curb the addiction epidemic, but a new USC study shows that approach diverts attention from the main ...

FDA bans use of opioid-containing cough meds by kids

January 12, 2018
(HealthDay)—Trying to put a dent in the ongoing opioid addiction crisis, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Thursday slapped strict new restrictions on the use of opioid-containing cold and cough products by kids.

Taking ibuprofen for long periods found to alter human testicular physiology

January 9, 2018
A team of researchers from Denmark and France has found that taking regular doses of the pain reliever ibuprofen over a long period of time can lead to a disorder in men called compensated hypogonadism. In their paper published ...

Nearly one-third of Canadians have used opioids: study

January 9, 2018
Nearly one in three Canadians (29 percent) have used "some form of opioids" in the past five years, according to data released Tuesday as widespread fentanyl overdoses continue to kill.

Growing opioid epidemic forcing more children into foster care

January 8, 2018
The opioid epidemic has become so severe it's considered a national public health emergency. Addiction to prescription painkillers, such as oxycodone and morphine, has contributed to a dramatic rise in overdose deaths and ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.