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Patchy prescribing putting patients at risk, 'medicalising misery' responsible for high use of anti-depressants, and NHS chief saves The Doctor's nemesis.

A round-up of the health news headlines on Thursday 21 November.

‘Patchy’ electronic prescribing practices among hospitals increases the risk of medication errors, the BBC reports.

The study, by researchers at University College London School of Pharmacy, looked at 101 UK hospitals and found 69% used some form of e-prescribing, but only one used a single system in all clinical areas.

Lead researcher, Professor Bryony Franklin, told the BBC: ‘The level of variation in the use of electronic prescribing between hospital departments, and the diversity of the systems in place, presents a potential threat to patient safety in the form of medication errors.’

Earlier this year, the Department of Health pledged £1bn to replace paper-based systems and expand electronic prescribing.

The ‘medicalisation of misery’ is responsible for the huge spike in the prescription of anti-depressants across Europe, the Guardian has found in a survey conducted with other European papers.

Just under 100 doctors responded, but many of them agreed that time constraints and the inadequacy - or lack - of alternative therapies as factors were adding pressure to prescribe for minor ailments.

Dr Gladys Mujica Lezcano, a Barcelona-based hospital doctor who responded to the survey, said: ‘We are medicalising common situations: conflict, separation and the vicissitudes of life.’

Dutch doctor Dr Ricardo Teijeiro disagreed, saying: ‘Dutch family doctors prescribe very little, they have learned that mild depression is iatrogenic and prescribe pills when they encounter a severe depression.’

Meanwhile, here is one Dr Who’s guaranteed not to be thanking the Professor Bruce Keogh this week, as the NHS England chief leapt to the aid of a collapsed Cyberman during a filming of the BBC’s The One Show.

According to the Telegraph, the former cardiac surgeon was interviewed on the show about his plans for A&E departments and was waiting backstage with actors for the Dr Who 50th anniversary show, when one of the cast fainted.

BBC reporter Justin Rowlatt, who had interviewed Professor Keogh, told the Telegraph:  ‘By the time we reached the Cyberman the guy had semi regained consciousness but needed a check-up to make sure there was nothing seriously wrong.’

‘Sir Bruce was able to check him over and confirm he was okay.’

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