Community pharmacists' interventions with electronic prescriptions in England: an exploratory study

Int J Clin Pharm. 2013 Dec;35(6):1030-5. doi: 10.1007/s11096-013-9853-1.


Background: Prescribing errors in primary care are problematic. The electronic prescription service (EPS) is an English electronic system linking prescribing, dispensing and reimbursement, designed to rectify some of the problems associated with paper-based prescribing.

Objective: To document the numbers and types of interventions made by community pharmacists and their staff using EPS release 2 (EPSR2), compare these with those made for other prescription types, and comment on potential effects of EPSR2 on pharmacy practice.

Methods: We invited staff in 15 community pharmacies to record problems encountered arising from failures in prescribing, dispensing or supply systems for prescribed medication, for a 2 week period.

Results: Eight pharmacies participated, of which five used EPSR2. These pharmacies reported 69 problems with 68 prescriptions (median 7.5 problems per pharmacy, range 2-22). A total of 33 problems were clinical in nature and 6 were organisational or logistical in origin. Thirty unsigned prescriptions were reported, all non-EPSR2. Of the 69 problems, eight were primarily related to EPSR2 functionality.

Conclusion: EPSR2 should reduce the number of unsigned prescriptions in circulation. However, prescribers should avoid the use of Latin abbreviations that cannot be interpreted directly by patients, and consider the compatibility of regularly prescribed items with the NHS dictionary of medicines and devices.

MeSH terms

  • Community Pharmacy Services / organization & administration*
  • Electronic Prescribing
  • England
  • Humans
  • Medication Errors / prevention & control*
  • Pharmacists / organization & administration*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians' / standards*
  • Primary Health Care / standards
  • Professional Role
  • United Kingdom