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Doctors face prescription testing


Mistakes made by doctors when prescribing drugs and medication are to be tackled by a new testing procedure being introduced by the British Pharmacological Society (BPS).

Its chairman, Professor Simon Maxwell, has said that prescribing is the “core business of the NHS”, and that evidence of a problem with quality control is now “overwhelming”.

He notes that half of all NHS spending outside of staff costs goes on drugs and medicines, and that mistakes are a major reason why patients seek compensation.

The society is developing a national prescribing assessment that includes a website where student doctors can practise their skills, including “dragging and dropping” the right drug doses onto virtual patients.

Professor Maxwell believes that this can go some way towards rectifying “piecemeal” standards of training in prescribing, and follows a study that found doctors rely heavily on pharmacists and nurses to correct their mistakes.

It also found that more experienced staff are acting as a safety net to help catch errors before they reach patients, and that there is a lack of “safety culture” within the NHS.

Copyright Press Association 2009

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