Pharmacist-led interventions reduced prescribing errors, study finds

April 15, 2012

Prescribing errors in primary care offices were significantly reduced with pharmacist intervention, according to a recent study.

The multicenter PINCER (pharmacist-led information technology intervention for medication errors) study, which was led by Tony Avery, professor of primary healthcare in the School of Community Health Sciences at the University of Nottingham, evaluated 72 general practice locations in the United Kingdom. The research was published in the February 21, 2012, edition of The Lancet.

The general practitioners (GPs) were randomly allocated to receive either computer-generated simple feedback for patients at risk of receiving medication errors or computerized feedback along with support from a pharmacist to correct detected errors.

The PINCER study found that GPs were 49% less likely to make errors in monitoring people taking ACE inhibitors or diuretics with pharmacist intervention, 42% less likely to make errors in prescribing NSAIDs to patients with a history of peptic ulcer, and 27% less likely to have prescribing errors associated with beta blockers. The pharmacist intervention was so successful, Avery believes, because the pharmacists informed GPs of the hazards associated with the prescribing errors and because of the practical support that pharmacists provided in helping GPs deal with errors that had been identified.

"We believe there is an urgent need to roll out this pharmacist-led intervention to GPs throughout the country to avoid unnecessary errors in the future," Avery said. "Most GPs already have in-house pharmacists, but much of their time is spent controlling prescribing costs," he added.

The interventions cost around 75 pounds (or $119.02) per error avoided. "Pharmacist-led interventions to reduce error rates have the potential to be cost-effective," the researchers stated in the study.