The Influence of Hospital-Based Prescribers on Prescribing in General Practice
Objective: To document the influence of hospital prescribers on prescribing in general practice. Design and Participants: Five percent of members of the Irish College of General Practitioners (n = 92) prospectively recorded 40 consecutive prescriptions. Interventions: The name, dose and amount of medicine prescribed as well as the indication for therapy, details of their practice, distribution of private/GMS patients, and the number of years since qualification were recorded. The cost of individual prescriptions was calculated based on the ingredient cost and the number of days of treatment. This was subsequently correlated with the origin of the prescription. Each prescription was classified as either new or repeat. Main outcome measures and results: Of 3286 prescriptions, 69% were for the state-supported General Medical Services (GMS) patients and 31% for private patients. Repeat prescriptions constituted 51%; 49% were new prescriptions. While hospital doctors initiated only 8% of private prescriptions, they initiated 38% of GMS prescriptions, particularly repeat prescriptions and those for cardiovascular, hormonal and centrally-acting agents. Prescriptions for anti-infectives, oral contraceptives, dermatological preparations and musculoskeletal drugs were mostly initiated in general practice. The median cost for hospital-initiated GMS prescriptions (Lstg 5.93) was greater than the cost of general practitioner (GP)-initiated prescriptions (Lstg 3.49; p < 0.01). Prescriptions from GPs who were qualified for less than 10 years and those with a mixed urban and rural practice were less costly (p < 0.05) than those issued by doctors qualified for over 10 years or working predominantly in an urban or rural area. These findings may also reflect differences in patient population, morbidity and demography. Conclusions: Our study indicates that hospital-initiated prescriptions are responsible for a significant proportion, both in volume and cost of GP prescribing.
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