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New British research has found that more than 4% of electronic prescriptions written by general practitioners contain errors. Researchers from Reading University in UK have been studying prescription data from 15 general practices over the past 18 months and are on the verge of publishing the results. Lead researcher, Dr. Rachel Howard, presented preliminary results at a forum on electronic prescribing held in London.

She said the research found that 4% of the prescriptions had “significant clinical errors” and another 0.9% had errors relating to the monitoring of medicines. She told the news service eHealth Insider, the research was the first to examine the rate of prescription errors in general medicine since electronic prescribing had been rolled out across the board.

Dr. Howard said the research suggested that some of the problems lay in a lack of therapeutic training and in doctors dealing with drugs with which they were not familiar. Being unfamiliar with a patient also contributed to prescription errors, particularly at walk-in centres.

Despite the assumption that electronic prescribing would help clinicians by eliminating illegibility, certain parts of systems were “extremely dangerous”, Dr. Howard added. She said pick lists of drugs, which arrange the options in alphabetical order, could easily lead to clinicians prescribing the wrong drug. In order to avoid prescription errors Dr. Howard suggested practices should establish a local formulary so doctors could prescribe drugs they were familiar with.

Other ideas to come out of the research include providing a link within the electronic prescribing system to the British National Formulary and increasing communication within practices and the wider health provider network. The Reading University study has been funded by the General Medical Council and is expected to be published in the next six months.

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Source: Research finds GP e-prescribing errors

Date: October 25, 2011

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, October 26th, 2011 at 12:26 pm and is filed under Longwoods Online.