Letters

Antibiotic prescribing in general practice

BMJ 2000; 321 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.321.7258.447/a (Published 12 August 2000) Cite this as: BMJ 2000;321:447

Practices should use the technology

  1. David Syme, general practitioner (dave@mountain-rescue.demon.co.uk)
  1. Loch Tay Cottage, Killin, Perthshire FK21 8TQ
  2. 57 Woodland Road, Northfield, Birmingham B21 2HZ
  3. 13 Edgemont Street, Glasgow G41 3EH
  4. Westerhope Medical Group, Newcastle upon Tyne NE5 2LH

    EDITOR—All my prescriptions, except those for controlled drugs, are computer generated. The general practice administration system for Scotland (the commonest practice computer system in Scotland) has a formulary option, which allows me to preset the dose of drug and length of course. I use this option extensively because it saves me time. (It can of course be overridden.) By spending a minute or two converting the formulary entry I have made sure that all my prescriptions for trimethoprim for urinary tract infection are for only 3 days. Presumably other systems have a similar facility. Computers don't get bored or forget that they ought to change behaviour.

    This simple and basic procedure might help to remove the need for computerised reminders, loose leaf practice manuals, and educational activities to implement this particular change.1

    References

    1. 1.

    Authors' solution may not be economically sound

    1. David Taylor, principal in general practice (galltay@hotmail.com)
    1. Loch Tay Cottage, Killin, Perthshire FK21 8TQ
    2. 57 Woodland Road, Northfield, Birmingham B21 2HZ
    3. 13 Edgemont Street, Glasgow G41 3EH
    4. Westerhope Medical Group, Newcastle upon Tyne NE5 2LH

      EDITOR—I enjoyed Lipman and Price's article on antibiotic prescribing in a group general practice and Greenhalgh's dramatic commentary on it.1 But I come to a different conclusion from the authors. The shorter course of trimethoprim did seem to result in more patients returning, as the nurses remarked, even if the confidence intervals were wide. A quick calculation showed this to add up to 14 consultations over the year. If you cost this out at £20 a visit, …

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