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A Resized GP Laptop Image cbMay 15 2018

The NHS is to introduce a series of new indicators to show whether a prescription may have contributed to a patient being admitted to hospital. The new system will work by linking prescribing data in primary care to hospital admissions. 

Initially, the indicators will focus on how different medicines may be contributing to people being admitted to hospital with gastro-intestinal bleeding. The programme will be expanded to cover more medicines and associated conditions later in the year, said the Department of Health and Social Care.

Two documents have been issued to help monitor prescribing and hospital admissions:

  • Medicines optimisation dashboard: open access service
  • ePACT2 dashboard: prescription level data for registered professionals

“Professionals registered with the ePACT2 service can access the prescription level data. ePACT2 is an application that gives authorised users access to prescription data,” said the DHSC. “Other users should access the data using the medicines optimisation dashboard. This is an open access service that aims to improve quality, patient outcomes and value from medicines use.”

A study published earlier this year estimated that 237 million medication errors occur annually within the NHS.

Care Minister Caroline Dinenage said: “While our own research has shown us the shocking toll medication errors take on our health service and its patients, the NHS itself needs a consistent way to measure medication errors. This ground-breaking initiative will help give us the data we need to stamp out these costly errors.”

RCGP Chair Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard said the data published by the DHSC should reassure patients that prescriptions issued from their GP surgery are made appropriately and accurately in the vast majority of cases.

While mistakes can happen, “the key thing is not to admonish people for mistakes, but to have the best possible systems in place to minimise the risk of errors happening, and to highlight and then rectify them swiftly if they do occur.

“We hope that the new measures will be useful for healthcare professionals throughout the NHS. it will now be important to constantly and rigorously evaluate these, to ensure they are being used and implemented in the best interests of patient care and safety.”

GPs already use embedded IT systems to help when prescribing, including alerts about interactions or allergies, said Professor Stokes-Lampard. “But ultimately the more sophisticated but streamlined safety measures we have in place to minimise human error, the better.”

Links:
DHSC announcement    
DHSC Research and analysis: ‘Medicine safety: indicators for safer prescribing’   
RCGP comment            
Today’s GP coverage of Medication error survey            

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