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MPS highlights prescribing as one of the top risks in general practice

Post date: 18/02/2014 | Time to read article: 2 mins

The information within this article was correct at the time of publishing. Last updated 14/11/2018

Prescribing continues to be one of the top five risks in general practice based on Clinical Risk Self Assessments (CRSAs) conducted by the Medical Protection Society (MPS) at more than 150 practices across the UK and Ireland in 2013.

Data from assessments conducted in 2013 revealed that 95.4% of practices visited had risks relating to the prescribing system. Common specific examples include uncollected scripts, repeat prescribing systems, and administrative staff changing medications on the computer.

Uncollected scripts accounted for 53% of prescribing risks

Ms Julie Price, a Clinical Risk Manager at MPS said, 'We found that a number of practices did not have a robust system in place to alert the prescribing doctor to uncollected prescriptions. Clinicians should be able to review uncollected scripts to check whether any further actions is needed as a consequence of non-compliance, this is particularly important when dealing with vulnerable patients.

MPS advises practices to consider making a note on patients’ records when they have not collected their prescription. This would alert the doctor to possible non-compliance and highlight to patients that a control mechanism is in place.'

Repeat prescribing protocol accounted for 50% of prescribing risks

On poor prescribing protocols, Ms Price said, 'Some of the practices we visited did not have a written repeat prescribing protocol, or if they did, it contained insufficient detail of the process. The CQC will be looking to see whether a practice has suitable arrangements to ensure that patients have their medicines when they need them, and in a safe way. It is important that practices draw up a comprehensive and robust repeat prescribing protocol that formalises prescribing systems, ensuring that all staff are trained in the procedure and have access to the protocol.

MPS noted in a small number of practices doctors ask administrative staff to make changes to the repeat prescription screen after hospital discharges. This is risky practice which can lead to errors.'

Advising on best practice, Miss Price said, 'To avoid errors, ideally the responsible doctor should add the medication to the prescription list. If administrative staff need to change or add medications, it must be closely checked by the doctor afterwards. Considerable care needs to be taken to ensure that all the details are correct and that it has been added to the correct patient record. Ultimately the doctor has responsibility for the prescriptions they sign.'

The data was collected by the MPS analysing the results of 153 (CRSAs) of general practices conducted in 2013. The top ten potential risks categories are as follows:
Risk Percentage of practices who identified the risk 2. Confidentiality 100% 3. Health & Safety 97.4% 4. Prescribing 95.4% 5. Record keeping 89.5% 6. Infection Control 88.9% 7. Staff training 88.9% 8. Test results 88.2% 9. Appointment and access 81.7%

Risk Percentage of practices who identified the risk
1. Communication 100%
2. Confidentiality 100%
3. Health & Safety 97.4%
4. Prescribing 95.4%
5. Record keeping 89.5%
6. Infection Control 88.9%
7. Staff training 88.9%
8. Test results 88.2%
9. Appointment and access 81.7%
10. Protocols 78.4%

Prescribing risk issues Percentage of practices who identified the risk
1. Uncollected scripts 52.9%
2. Repeat prescribing policy 48.7%
3. Anticoagulant management 33.3%
4. Prescription errors 29.4%

5. Administration staff changing medications on computer


More information

Please contact Stella-Maris Zegge, Press Officer at MPS on +44 207 399 1439 or email for more information.

Notes to Editor

1. The data is from 153 practices Clinical Risk Self Assessments (CRSAs) in the UK and Ireland, undertaken from January 2013 – December 2013. CRSAs are an MPS service, which has been developed to assist practices in identifying their specific risks.
2. MPS also offers a range of educational workshops focussed on minimising exposure to risk. For more information please click here

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