Wednesday, 2 May 2012

A good standard of GP prescribing – but improvement possible

With over 990 million prescriptions per year dispensed in England, errors in GP prescribing are not unknown.  But how many errors are made? And more importantly, how serious are these errors?

Dr Maisoon Ghaleb, together with Prof Soraya Dhillon and Dr Cinzia Pezzolesi, from the School of Pharmacy has collaborated in a major study into GP prescribing. While the vast majority of prescriptions written by family doctors are appropriate and effectively monitored, around one in twenty prescriptions contain an error.

In the study, a sample of fifteen GP practices across three areas in England found that where there were prescribing and monitoring 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 recommends a greater role for pharmacists in supporting GPs, better use of computer systems and extra emphasis on prescribing in GP training.

The report can be found at

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