Making prescribing safer with PINCER

16 Mar

Pharmacist

Recent news reports brought home the importance of reducing medication errors in healthcare. The news coverage highlighted that research, conducted by university academics in Manchester, Sheffield and York estimated 230,000 errors each year in the administering of medication in the NHS, contributing to 22,000 deaths. While the majority of these errors are spotted (and corrected) at the point of error, or do not threaten patient safety, a drastic reduction in the number of errors is now being called for. A change from the current culture of blame to a learning culture is one solution being discussed, but there are other, more practical interventions already in existence.

Once such intervention, called PINCER, is a pharmacist-led intervention developed at the Universities of Nottingham, Manchester and Edinburgh. PINCER has been shown to be an effective method for reducing a range of clinically important and commonly made medication errors in primary care.  Using a set of ‘prescribing safety indicators’ which identify common, but potentially harmful, medication prescribing errors, the intervention involves:

  •         Running searches on GP computer systems to identify patients at risk from common and important prescribing and drug monitoring errors
  •         Pharmacists – trained in the PINCER approach – working with individual general practices to develop an action plan to address the issues identified
  •         Pharmacists (and pharmacy technicians) working with and supporting general practice staff to implement the action plan.

With funding from the Health Foundation and East Midlands Academic Health Science Network, PINCER has been rolled out to 360 practices across the East Midlands since September 2015.  Over 2.9 million patient records have been searched, identifying over 21,000 instances of hazardous prescribing. Applying trends from data collected as part of the evaluation of the rollout, it is estimated that over 10,500 patients have received an active intervention resulting in safer care as a direct benefit of implementing the intervention.

The PINCER intervention has been incorporated into national guidelines to support medicines optimisation by NICE and a more detailed evaluation of the rollout in the East midlands is being done as part of a new NIHR funded programme grant called PRoTeCT to explore whether implementing PINCER reduces avoidable medication-related harm and hospital admissions.

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