Readers might be interested in a new website www.groupprotocols.org.uk, which has been launched for a database of approved group protocols for the supply and administration of medicines.

The site is managed from Hope Hospital Pharmacy, Salford, and includes protocols used in the North West Region.

This is a quality initiative in support of the clinical governance agenda and will enable health professionals in both primary and secondary care to learn from each other, and improve the efficiency of introducing group protocols by reducing duplication.

Health professionals are encouraged to visit the site and search for protocols similar to those they wish to produce. Search fields include Clinical area/s, Drugs, Diseases/Situation, Profession/s, Primary or Secondary Care, or both.

A complex search facility is available to enable searching by more than one of the above fields.

A search produces a listing of protocol titles from which you can choose one or more protocol submissions to view. This then leads to a summary of the main fields and an option to display and/or download a copy of the protocol.

Emphasis is placed on the importance of producing group protocols locally and advice is given not to adopt the protocols unchanged for use elsewhere.

Submissions for protocols different from those on the database will be considered for inclusion from Centres outside the North West Region.

The site will be constantly developing as more protocols are added, so please revisit the site if you are unable to locate a protocol. A page listing recent additions to the website is continuously maintained.

Peter GW Jones, Group Protocol Coordinator, Hope Hospital, Salford

Dr Matthew Lockyer has produced an excellent review of the problem of otitis media in general practice (Guidelines in Practice, March 2000).

Streptococcus pneumoniae accounts for 50% of bacterial infections associated with otitis media. Prophylaxis against this infection is being tackled in America, subject to FDA approval, by the use of a 7-valency vaccine for the under-2 year olds.

My own experience with, first, the 19-valency vaccine and later the 23-valency vaccine, in the over-2 year olds was very encouraging.

We must by all means continue to examine patients to establish a clinical diagnosis, but increasingly we must replace clinical guidelines based on historical microbiological evidence by that provided by current near-patient tests. Prevention must be the ultimate aim.

Dr Eric Blay, retired GP, Hampshire

Dr Matthew Lockyer replies:

I am grateful to Dr Blay for drawing my attention to an aspect of otitis media prevention that I was not previously aware of.

The point is well made that as well as changing current practice based on evidence, it may also be necessary to explore innovative ideas such as this to try to reduce antibiotic resistance.

Dr Matthew Lockyer, GP, Suffolk

Guidelines in Practice, April 2000, Volume 3
© 2000 MGP Ltd
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