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Saturday 24th August 2019

Errors in prescriptions could harm thousands

14th September 2012

Pharmacists have said doctors are responsible for prescription errors that could be causing tens of thousands of patients severe harm or death.


Figures from the industry group Pharmacy Voice suggest pharmacists are identifying 34,000 problems every year that could harm a patient and almost 10,000 that could potentially kill them.

Chief executive Rob Darracott said half the errors appeared to originate with the prescribing doctor and include prescribing penicillin to a person with an allergy to it and acidic wart drops for an eye problem.

However, the organisation did also say that some of the problems were not the doctors’ fault and were a result of unpredicted side effects.

Mr Darracott said pharmacies perform a range of vital functions that usually go unnoticed, but he added: “This is not about GPs failing - it is about teamwork in primary care working well.”

But he said it would be helpful if doctors shared more information with pharmacists and gave them access to patients’ summary care records, although there are concerns among GPs that this would breach patient confidentiality.

The figures produced by Pharmacy Voice are based on an audit of 20 million prescription items, dispensed by 4,409 pharmacies in one week. During that time pharmacists spotted 44,527 problems, including 527 that could have resulted in serious harm and another 148 potentially in death.

The Royal College of GPs said it and the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain were making good progress in building closer working relationships between GPs and pharmacists.


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