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article imageReport shows Canadian doctors over-prescribing

By KJ Mullins     Sep 27, 2010 in Health
In Decisions, Decisions: Family Doctors as Gatekeepers to Prescription Drugs and Diagnostic Imaging in Canada, a report released by Health Council of Canada today, better management of prescription drugs and diagnostic imaging services are needed.
For the health system in Canada family physicians are the gatekeepers, often the first point of contact with the health care system, whose decisions affect treatments.
"Family physicians act as 'gatekeepers' and play a key role in ensuring that our health care services such as drugs, diagnostics, and specialist services are being used appropriately," says John G. Abbott, CEO, Health Council of Canada in a press release. "Given the host of factors that influence their decision-making, we can do more to assist family physicians in curbing the overuse of diagnostics and drugs, and make significant improvements in managing our health care system."
In 2009 483 million prescriptions were filled at community pharmacies, compared to only 272 million in 1999. The increase of medication suggests that some Canadians may be taking drugs that they do not need. During the past two decades the use of MRIs and CT scans have also shown dramatic increased use, including a 100 percent increase of the number of MRIs conducted.
According to the report the use and adherence to clinical practice guidelines are too low. It was also found that improvements are needed in terms of use and access to electronic medical and health records across the country with Canada lagging behind many other nations when it comes to the use of health information technology.
Few family doctors use electronic medical records reserving their office computers to electronic billing and appointment scheduling.
"We can make up for this lack of information through additional research and the wider adoption of electronic health records by family physicians," stated Abbott. "It is a critical foundation for safe and appropriate prescribing and medication management. It is essential that an electronic system is in place to efficiently assist physicians in following clinical practice guidelines, making the best decisions for their patients and for the sustainability of our health-care system."
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