GPs may be regularly making mistakes when prescribing medicines, according to a high-profile report published today by the General Medical Council. The report found that mistakes in areas such as dosage and timing were common, although it also found that “serious” errors were unusual.
The report has received a great deal of press interest, with The Daily Telegraph reporting that “millions” of prescriptions contain dangerous errors, while the Daily Mail reported that “GP drug blunders” are hitting hundreds of thousands of elderly patients. The study examined over 6,000 prescriptions issued at a range of GP surgeries in England. It looked at factors such as dosage, record keeping and giving patients appropriate check-ups to assess the impact of their medication. Researchers found prescription errors had been made for one in eight patients overall, and four in ten patients over 75 years of age. In all, 1 in 20 prescriptions written featured an error. Of the errors, 42% were judged to be minor, 54% moderate and 4% severe.