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At the heart of general practice since 1960

'EMIS claims just scaremongering'

GPs are over-estimating pressure from patients to get

antibiotics and may be allowing their prescribing decisions to be influenced inappropriately, researchers warn.

More than 70 per cent of GPs reported that a patient wanted antibiotics, compared with just 13 per cent of nurse prescribers, according to the study in Family Practice (October).

Almost two-thirds of GPs interpreted a patient's request for a prescription as being for antibiotics specifically.

And 74 per cent of GPs prescribed antibiotics for coughs and colds compared with 66 per cent of nurses, according to the study, which analysed prescribing practices among 181 GPs and 291 nurse supplementary prescribers in walk-in centres.

The researchers concluded nurses might compensate for lack of confidence in their new role by being extra careful not to be influenced by patients' expectations.

Dr Douglas Fleming, director of the RCGP Birmingham Research Unit and member of the Government's specialist advisory committee on antimicrobial resistance, said he thought the number of patients who came in expecting antibiotics had declined in recent years. 'But it's a matter of training,' he said. 'There is great variability depending on what the practice has done to tackle attitudes.'

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