Prescribing pharmacists have a significantly lower rate of prescribing errors than doctors, states a study published in the European Journal of Hospital Pharmacy.
Pharmacists in the UK can register as independent pharmacist prescribers (IPPs) on completion of appropriate higher education training. IPPs have had the same prescribing privileges as medical doctors since 2009.
Pharmacists working in one NHS Trust, in areas with a large proportion of prescribing undertaken by IPPs, were purposefully recruited to collect data over a one-week period in May 2018. They collected data on all prescription items validated that were prescribed by IPPs and doctors.
Of 5840 prescription items recorded, 17.6 per cent were prescribed by an IPP.
A total of 479 errors were recorded. Overall, the error rate for pharmacists was 0.7 per cent (95% CI, 0.0-1.0%) compared with an average error rate of 9.8 per cent (95% CI, 9.0-11.0%) for doctors.
Almost 86 per cent of errors made by pharmacists were recorded as minor in significance, compared with an average of 31.7 per cent for all doctor’s prescribing errors. Actual patient harm occurred with 0.04 per cent of all prescriptions.
The authors recommend greater integration of IPPs in multidisciplinary teams but say further large trials are required to validate the results of this study.