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National recognition for doctor’s bright idea

National recognition for doctor’s bright idea
13 July 2017

An Eastern Cheshire GP trainee has been highly commended at a national awards ceremony for finding a new way to help doctors reduce the number of frail, elderly patients falling and injuring themselves.

Dr Rebecca King, from The Schoolhouse Surgery in Disley, developed a website that makes it easy for clinical staff to calculate the risk of side effects from combinations of anticholinergic drugs used to treat conditions including depression, insomnia and incontinence.

And at the finals of the 2017 Patient Safety Awards in Manchester Central on Tuesday 4 July, she was named runner-up in the category of “improving safety in medicines management.”

Medications with anticholinergic properties are often prescribed to older, frailer patients but their use in certain combinations can cause falls because of side effects including blurred vision, drowsiness and dizziness.

But Dr King’s Anticholinergic Burden Calculator measures the risk of prescribing various combinations and then suggests safer alternatives. The web app was built by Steve Smith, a friend of Dr King, who works as a software developer in London.

Practice partner Dr Andrew Maurice said: “This hugely innovative solution will benefit frail, elderly patients by reducing their risk of falling. We’re now using it as a matter of course in the surgery and in medication reviews in the care homes we serve.

“Adverse drug reactions account for 6.5 per cent of hospital admissions, and it is thought that up to 70 per cent of these could be avoidable. Many of these adverse reactions can be attributed to the unwanted effects of anticholinergics. That’s why I welcome Dr King’s burden calculator – which will not only improve the quality of patients’ lives but also ease pressure on the NHS as it struggles to cope with ever-increasing demand.”

The Patient Safety Awards are held annually to recognise outstanding practice in healthcare. Entries are judged by experts from organisations including the Department of Health, NHS England, clinical commissioning groups, hospital trusts and patient groups.

Care UK was the winner in the safety-in-medicines-management category.

Dr King’s calculator had already been applauded locally, having won the Macclesfield District General Hospital Annual Presentation Prize late last year. And her second place at the safety awards is the latest honour for The Schoolhouse Surgery, which was a finalist in the GP of the Year Awards 2016 for management of long-term conditions. In addition, the surgery is among just four per cent of GP practices nationally to have been rated outstanding by the Care Quality Commission.