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GPs get one in five Read codes wrong

GPs are entering the wrong Read code in up to one in five consultations, RCGP research has revealed.

A follow-up of 191 diagnoses of vaccine-preventable diseases found 35 had been coded incorrectly, according to the annual report of the RCGP weekly returns service, published last week.

The report warned that using Read codes to assess disease prevalence could be even more error prone as a further 12 per cent of diagnoses

entered by GPs were later


Some of the Read code

errors arose when a group of patients checked for rubella status were recorded by a practice as having the disease.

Another error occurred when a patient who was a traced hepatitis contact was coded as having the disease.

Dr Douglas Fleming, director of the RCGP Birmingham research unit, said there was 'a huge risk of errors'.

But errors in Read coding did not affect GPs' man-

agement of patients, he


Professor Tony Avery, professor of general practice at the University of Nottingham, said the findings 'suggest a problem'.

He said the sheer number of Read codes was part of the difficulty but hoped the new GMS contract would make a 'massive difference' to the quality of recording data.

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