OBJECTIVES: To develop valid, reliable indicators of the appropriateness of long-term prescribing in general practice medical records in the United Kingdom. DESIGN: A nominal group was used to identify potential indicators of appropriateness of prescribing. Their face and content validity were subsequently assessed in a two round Delphi exercise. Feasibility and reliability between raters were evaluated for the indicators for which consensus was reached and were suitable for application. PARTICIPANTS: The nominal group comprised a disciplinary mix of nine opinion leaders and prominent academics in the field of prescribing. The Delphi panel was composed of 100 general practitioners and 100 community pharmacists. RESULTS: The nominal group resulted in 20 items which were refined to produce 34 statements for the Delphi exercise. Consensus was reached on 30, from which 13 indicators suitable for application were produced. These were applied by two independent raters to the records of 49 purposively sampled patients in one general practice. Nine indicators showed acceptable reliability between raters. CONCLUSIONS: 9 indicators of prescribing appropriateness were produced suitable for application to the medical record of any patient on long term medication in United Kingdom general practice. Although the use of the medical record has limitations, this is currently the only available method to assess a patient's drug regimen in its entirety.
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