Simple steps could halve GP scrip errors within five years

GP prescribing errors could be halved in five years by introducing simple steps to eliminate mistakes, UK researchers believe.

Prescriptions: simple steps could cut out errors, researchers believe
Prescriptions: simple steps could cut out errors, researchers believe

Earlier this year, Nottingham GP Professor Tony Avery and his team found that one in 20 GP prescriptions contains a prescribing or monitoring error.

The researchers are now collating evidence about which interventions are most effective at reducing prescribing errors.

Professor Avery will discuss the group's work next week at the joint Society for Academic Primary Care and RCGP conference in Glasgow.

Speaking to GP ahead of the conference, he said his team was developing a five-year programme to reduce errors.

The report earlier this year about GP prescribing recommended that strategies should focus on five key areas.

These were GP training, CPD, clinical governance, effective use of practice IT, and improving safety systems within primary care and at the interface with secondary care.

Professor Avery said all of these mechanisms would need to be used to cut errors. 'It's about taking a multifactorial approach and using all the things we've identified,' he said.

'If we can approach it in these ways, my hope would be that we can reduce the prevalence of prescribing errors in general practice by 50% over the next five years.'

Professor Avery is working with the RCGP to help improve GP training and CPD in prescribing. He is also involved in discussions with GP practice IT suppliers to help introduce timely warnings about the need to monitor patients taking certain medicines.

Professor Avery said the DH was also receptive to the idea of using pharmacists to improve GP prescribing and that GP commissioners might want to explore this idea.

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