Rate of Prescribing Errors in General Practice Revealed

The General Medical Council of England has just released on May 2 2012 the results of an extensive report on research it commissioned to determine the prevalence and nature of monitoring and prescribing errors in a general physician’s practice. the research also explored potential opportunities to mitigate the future occurrence of prescribing errors.

The study used various research methods including retrospective case note review, in depth interviews with physicians, focus groups with members of primary healthcare teams and root cause analysis.

Rate of Prescribing Errors

The study examined 6,048 unique prescription items for 1,777 patients. The research found that 1 in 20 prescription items contained either a monitoring or prescribing error, affecting 1 in 8 patients. Although the majority of errors were judged to be either of mild or moderate severity, 1 in 550 of all prescription items contained an error judged to be severe.

Causes of Prescribing Errors

A number of factors were identified as contributing to these errors. A lack of training in the skill of prescribing, distractions and a failure to fully utilise existing technology solutions all figured prominently in the results.

The study confirmed that problems persist with the transfer of medication information across the interface between primary and secondary care. The reporting of incidents beyond the immediate practice establishment was limited and this restricted opportunities for wider learning following adverse events.

The report makes a number of recommendations for improving the safety of prescribing including:

Promoting the effective use of clinical computer systems for increased safety.
Increasing the prominence given to therapeutic knowledge and the skills and attitudes needed for safe prescriptions during physician training.
Promoting the reporting of adverse events through a national reporting systems.

In addition it was suggested that pharmacists can play a greater role in mitigating the occurrence of error, through reviewing patients with complex medicines regimens at a practice level, and in identifying and informing the general physician of errors at the point of dispensing.

Claims for Prescribing Errors

For more information on how to make a claim for a prescribing error visit our compensation for medication errors page.

This entry was posted in adverse drug reaction, medical malpractice. Bookmark the permalink. Comments are closed, but you can leave a trackback: Trackback URL.