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GP e-prescribing errors found

25th October 2011

According to research from Reading University, 4% of electronic prescriptions written by GPs have "significant clinical errors".

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The researchers looked at prescription information from 15 GP surgeries from the last 18 months.

The study's lead researcher Dr Rachel Howard spoke about the preliminary results at a conference in London.

She said the study found that 4% of prescriptions contained errors and an additional 0.9% had mistakes concerning medicine monitoring.

Dr Howard informed E-Health Insider that the data was the first of its kind to look at the number of prescription mistakes in medicine since e-prescriptions had been introduced.

She said the study could suggest that some of the errors were cased by a lack of training and in GPs working with medication they had little knowledge about. 

"GPs will have that comfort level with drugs they are familiar with and prescribe, and once they get out of that then things get a bit more tricky," she said.

Dr Howard added that two walk-in centres were involved during the process of collecting the information and GPs were not comfortable about issuing prescriptions in that environment. 

She explained: "That’s because they don’t know anything about the patient. They felt that the Summary Care Record, once it came online, would make a huge difference."

Deputy chief pharmacist at University Hospital Aintree NHS Foundation Trust, Alex Jennings said e-prescriptions could be dangerous, especially the alphabetical picking lists.

"It is not that clinicians make a mistake and they realise it, quite often they make the mistake thinking they’re doing the right thing."

"At the moment dose checking and decision support doesn’t really exist. Most systems that are out there just replicate the paper systems and are not very smart; in fact they are very stupid in some cases."

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