Friday, May 04, 2012

Your doctor is only human, but patient safety is priority

This is Nottingham 4 May 2012

Numerous studies from around the world have shown that sometimes doctors make mistakes when prescribing, and occasionally patients are harmed as a result.
Along with colleagues from the University of Nottingham, and several other universities, we have recently completed the largest study ever of prescribing errors in general practices.

This week the General Medical Council (GMC) launched our report at a press conference in London and life has been a bit of a whirlwind since with headline news on Wednesday, and me being asked to do numerous radio interviews (including a 5:30am call from Radio 4!).

The likely reason for this level of media interest has been the uncomfortable finding that around one in 20 prescriptions issued by GPs contains an error.

It is important, however, to emphasise that we found the vast majority were safe. Also, many of the errors we found were relatively minor. The study showed the need for improvement in terms of typing clear dosage instructions on prescriptions, getting the dose and timing right, and making sure blood tests are done if these are needed.

We are now looking at ways of helping GPs.

We have published an important study in The Lancet showing how pharmacists can help GPs reduce errors.
And we are developing a "patient safety toolkit" to help general practices with patient safety.

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