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Are Doctors making us ill?

A report published in the British Medical Journal has highlighted the risk that a visit to the doctor could end up as an admission to hospital – as a result of the medication prescribed by the GP and not due to the illness the GP was endeavouring to treat!

In a study carried out in 260 GP practices in Scotland, an incredible 1 in 20 admissions to hospital were caused by an adverse reaction to prescription drugs. In half of those cases the situation was described as “preventable” by the authors of the joint study, carried out by Strathclyde and Dundee Universities.

In most cases the problem related to prescription of anti-psychotic and anti-inflammatory medication, drugs which are regularly prescribed and in relation to which the potentially adverse side effects are well known. The fact that they are commonly used does not diminish the fact that they are “high risk”.

The problem is said to arise due to a lack of time for consultations with the GP and poor IT systems, which leave GPs failing to properly identify the patient’s full medical history and thus overlooking any contra indications for prescribing a particular medication.

There is however some good news, in that GPs provided with extra materials, including comparative prescribing rates with other practices, have reduced the level of high risk drugs prescribed by as much as 14%, thereby reducing hospital admissions. It is hoped that the learning exercise will gain traction to the point where patients entering hospital because their doctors have made them ill becomes the exception.

If you have experienced problems with misprescription or over prescription of medication contact our experienced clinical negligence team on 0800 316 8892.