University of Nottingham

 Accurate prescribing to reduce errors

General Practitioiners in every surgery in England are now better equipped to reduce the human and societal cost of prescription errors, thanks to our pharmacist-led PINCER tool.

Some 340 million GP consultations are held in England every year and one billion medications dispensed. Even with the most rigorous practices and highly trained practitioners there is clear potential for errors in any system that’s so busy and dealing with the complex challenge of prescribing effectively and safely for individual needs.

In fact, one in 25 hospital admissions in England are linked to prescription errors, a preventable cost to the NHS of more than £650m a year.

Now, thanks to an online tool created at the University of Nottingham, GPs in every surgery in England will be better equipped to reduce the human and societal cost of prescription errors. Known as PINCER, this pharmacist-led IT-based intervention tool – created to reduce clinically important medication errors – was developed by pharmacists and primary care researchers and colleagues in PRIMIS; a business unit within the School of Medicine with expertise in extracting knowledge and value from primary care data. 

PINCER searches GP computer systems to identify patients who are potentially at risk from hazardous prescribing using a set of safety indicators. The doctors are alerted and work with pharmacists to head off this potential prescription error. GPs are familiar with other ‘pop-up’ alerts and sometimes inclined to ignore them – what makes PINCER more effective is bringing together doctors and practice-dedicated pharmacists to support a coordinated action plan for each patient. 

In March 2022, PINCER completed a national roll-out to over 41% of the GP practices in England with significant benefits in reduction of prescribing errors.