Helping Family Doctors to Self-regulate Their Prescribing (the 13-year Northern Ireland Experience). Essential Drugs Monitor No. 009 (1990)
(1990; 1 page)


Since 1966, all general practitioner (GP) prescriptions in Northern Ireland have been kept in complete computerized records. Dr. Hugh McGavock, Director of the Drug Utilization Research Unit in the Department of Therapeutics and Pharmacology at the Queens University of Belfast, describes how this system has been used to help GPs self-regulate prescribing practices. Each GP receives prescribing feedback through personal meetings with prescribing liaison officers. Prescribing data derived from the computerized records provide general and highly specific information about individual and national prescribing practices. This data is divided into three levels: level one shows practice characteristics, level two shows the frequency of prescription of particular therapeutic groups, and level three shows the use of individual drugs. Following data analysis, prescribing liaison officers meet with GPs to discuss the results. Three months after each meeting, changes in prescribing habits are checked via a computerized system. These computerized checks have shown that prescribing liaison visits cause a decrease in GP prescription rates and on average, save practices approximately £1000 per month. The prescribing liaison system has been implemented in other regions of the United Kingdom with reasonable success. The Department of Therapeutics and Pharmacology at the Queens University is set to conduct a five-year study beginning in 1990 aimed at proving the effectiveness of this system at improving the rationality and scientific precision of GP prescribing practices. (Abstract by Flannery Bowman, 2013)

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