GP staff give hidden help with repeat prescribing

The British study, by researchers at Queen Mary, University of London, analysed how doctors, receptionists and other administrative staff contributed to, and collaborated on, repeat prescribing routines at four UK general practices.

The study found repeat prescriptions accounted for up to three-quarters of all medication prescribed and four-fifths of medication costs in UK general practice, and repeat prescribing was recognised as a significant quality and safety concern. 

The aim of the study was to identify potential threats to patient safety, and said while it was often assumed that electronic records made repeat prescribing safer by reducing human error, some suggested it may also introduce technology-related errors.

Researchers found a “model-reality gap” existed between formal prescribing protocols and the real-time activity of repeat prescribing, but that staff often bridged that gap by making “practical judgments”