Hospital admissions and even deaths have been linked to the preventable side effects of drugs prescribed in primary care, research shows.
Drugs that have a high risk of causing side effects are being prescribed to around 60,000 people in Scotland. They discovered cases where anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen, were prescribed to patients with kidney problems or stomach ulcers, while people with dementia had been given anti-psychotic drugs.
High-risk prescribing was noted as fairly common, but researchers found that different practices varied greatly in their prescribing habits, the cause of which was “largely unexplained”.
The team said there may be a good reason as to why GPs were offering patients high-risk drugs, particularly in complex situations where there is no obvious “correct” course of action, but that the big differences between practices suggest that prescribing could be made safer.
Professor Bruce Guthrie and his colleagues at Dundee University medical school’s centre for primary care and population research looked at prescribing records and other data from 315 general practices in Scotland with 1.76 million registered patients.