The General Medical Council (GMC) has called on GPs to invest in better technology and open their records to pharmacists, after a study found mistakes or omissions in 4.9% of GP prescriptions.
The one-year PRACTICE study, carried out by pharmacists, examined nearly 1,800 patient records for over a 12 month period looking for mistakes in prescribing.
One in five patients who were taking medicines had been given a prescription with an error in it. The most common of these errors were ‘incomplete information on the prescription’ (31%), dose errors (17%) or timing errors (11%).
There were also 55 monitoring errors in the records, the most common of which was a ‘failure to request monitoring’ found in 70% of cases.
Whilst fewer than 4% of the errors were judged to be severe, errors were found to be significantly more common in older patients and in those receiving five or more drugs.
Time pressures during GP consultations are thought to be to blame, along with complex computer software that makes it easy to select the wrong dose or incorrect dose. Martin Astbury, president of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, said:
“We are calling for every GP practice to have a pharmacist on the premises dedicated to patient safety.”
Seperate research by GP magazine has found that more than half of GPs had experienced ‘inappropriate demands’ from local NHS managers to send fewer patients to hospital.
Under the efficiency drive to save £20bn by 2015, doctors have been asked to review how many patients they refer and investigate how many of their patients attend A&E departments.
One GP said the scheme had become a ‘huge waste of time that could be better spent treating patients rather than meaningless government box-ticking.
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