Identification of an updated set of prescribing-safety indicators for GPs

Rachel Spencer, Brian Bell, Anthony Avery, Gill Gookey, Stephen Campbell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Medication error is an important contributor to patient morbidity and mortality and is associated with inadequate patient safety measures. However, prescribing-safety tools specifically designed for use in general practice are lacking. Aim: To identify and update a set of prescribing-safety indicators for assessing the safety of prescribing in general practice, and to estimate the risk of harm to patients associated with each indicator. Design and setting: RAND/UCLA consensus development of indicators in UK general practice. Method: Prescribing indicators were identified from a systematic review and previous consensus exercise. The RAND Appropriateness Method was used to further identify and develop the indicators with an electronic-Delphi method used to rate the risk associated with them. Twelve GPs from all the countries of the UK participated in the RAND exercise, with 11 GPs rating risk using the electronic-Delphi approach. Results: Fifty-six prescribing-safety indicators were considered appropriate for inclusion (overall panel median rating of 7–9, with agreement). These indicators cover hazardous prescribing across a range of therapeutic indications, hazardous drug–drug combinations and inadequate laboratory test monitoring. Twenty-three (41%) of these indicators were considered high risk or extreme risk by 80% or more of the participants. Conclusion: This study identified a set of 56 indicators that were considered, by a panel of GPs, to be appropriate for assessing the safety of GP prescribing. Twenty-three of these indicators were considered to be associated with high or extreme risk to patients and should be the focus of efforts to improve patient safety.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)181-190
Number of pages10
JournalBritish Journal of General Practice
Issue number621
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2014
Externally publishedYes


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