Cut drug errors by prescribing safely

Diane Baylis offers advice for independent practitioners in a world where complaints and litigation are increasing.

The sheer number of prescriptions processed means errors will occur with potential harm to patients. 

While many mistakes fortunately do not result in patient harm, you will have seen the headlines when a medication error results in serious harm or a patient’s death. 

Given the challenging claims and complaints environment for private doctors and the various studies highlighting the frequency of medication errors, now is a good time to look at how you can enhance patient safety and reduce your risk in managing medicines.

So, what is ‘good’ prescribing? It is in fact poorly defined. Depend­ing on your perspective, there are several values and behaviours involved in the prescribing process. For example, it should be evidence-based, appropriate, minimise harm, involve good communication and involve the patient. It should achieve concordance and be cost-effective.