Use of prescribing safety quality improvement reports in UK general practices: a qualitative assessment

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Background: Quality improvement (QI) initiatives are increasingly used to improve the quality of care and reduce prescribing errors. The Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) and Clinical Practice Research Datalink (CPRD) QI initiative uses routinely collected electronic primary care data to provide bespoke practice-level reports on prescribing safety. The aim of this study was to explore how the QI reports were used, barriers and facilitators to use, long-term culture change and perceived impact on patient care and practices systems as a result of receiving the reports. Methods: A qualitative study using purposive sampling of practices contributing to the CPRD, semi-structured interviews and inductive thematic analysis. We interviewed general practitioners, pharmacists, practice managers and research nurses. Results: We conducted 18 interviews, and organised themes summarising the use of QI reports in practice: receiving the report, facilitators and barriers to acting upon the reports, acting upon the report, and how the reports contribute to a quality culture. Effective dissemination of reports, and a positive attitude to audit and the perceived relevance of the clinical topic facilitated use. Lack of time and failure to see or act upon the reports meant they were not used. Factors influencing use of the reports included the structure of the report, ease of identifying cases, and perceptions about coding accuracy. GPs and pharmacists used the reports to conduct case reviews and directly contact patients to discuss unsafe prescribing and patient medication preferences. Finally, the reports contributed to the development of a quality culture within practices through promoting audit activity and acting as a reminder of good prescribing behaviours, promoting future patient safety initiatives, contributing to continuing professional development and improving local networks. Conclusions: This study found the reports facilitated individual case review leading to an enhanced sense of quality culture in practices where they were utilised. Our findings demonstrate that the reports were generally considered useful and have been used to support patient safety and clinical practice in specific cases.




Khan, N. F., Booth, H. P., Myles, P., Mullett, D., Gallagher, A., Evans, C., … Valentine, J. (2021). Use of prescribing safety quality improvement reports in UK general practices: a qualitative assessment. BMC Health Services Research, 21(1).

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