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Preventing prescribing errors with PINCER

We are supporting the rollout of PINCER to help prevent prescribing errors in general practice.

What is PINCER?

Prescribing errors in general practice are an expensive, preventable cause of safety incidents, illness, hospitalisations and even deaths. Serious errors affect 1 in 550 prescription items, while hazardous prescribing in general practice contributes to around 1 in 25 hospital admissions.

The 2012 Lancet paper showed that a pharmacist led information technology intervention for reducing clinically important errors (PINCER), substantially reduced the frequency of a range of clinically important prescription and medication monitoring errors. This was scaled up by the Health Foundation.

In 2017, the World Health Organisation (WHO) launched a Global Patient Safety Challenge: Medication without Harm with the aim of reducing the level of severe, avoidable harm related to medicines by 50% over the next 5 years, globally.

In order to support this Global Patient Safety Challenge, UCLPartners have been commissioned by NHS England to implement a pharmacist-led Information technology intervention for reducing clinically important errors (PINCER) to CCGs and GP practice pharmacists.

How PINCER is being adopted?

PINCER helps tackle these issues, by training GP practice pharmacists to deploy PINCER searches on GP computer systems, alongside Quality Improvement methodology, including root cause analysis, to identify why mistakes happened. The pharmacists then agree and implement a practice action plan.

It is one of seven programmes selected for national adoption and spread across the AHSN Network during 2018-20. It has now been spread to other parts of the country and is currently having further detailed evaluation of the implementation. It is anticipated that use of PINCER will result in fewer medication-related hospital admissions and cost savings to the NHS.

Celebrating success

We have exceeded our target for FY 2019/20 for PINCER, with 239 practices across UCLPartners uploading baseline data. We’ve trained over 153 Pharmacists across 12 CCGs. On 29 April we hosted a webinar to celebrate this success, consider what has worked well, where there is room for improvement and next steps for PINCER. Watch the full webinar below.

Download the full slide set here.

Contact us

If you are a CCG, GP practice or practice pharmacist interested in using PINCER, please contact

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