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Thursday, 15 September 2011

Assessing prescribing skills

@HealthMed Doctors and other prescribers internationally find prescribing challenging. To get this right at times of high pressure, including in the emergency medicine setting, it is vital that basic skills are as well developed as possible. Add to that the need for care in calculation, avoiding the distracting effects of multi-tasking, challenges in medicines reconciliation, and risks inherent in shift-working and other complex work patterns. And electronic prescribing systems alone are not a sufficient safeguard. For example, reporting from the USA indicates that error rates may increase following the move from paper to electronic prescribing. The complex range of skills needed for safe and effective prescribing includes sound core knowledge of basic mechanisms of drug action, drug use in the clinical setting, and the impact of patient genetics, age, gender, lifestyle, the disease to be treated as well as co-existing medical conditions and the impact of other drugs and remedies. Many of these principles are easier to put into practice by adopting a personalized approach to therapeutics, with the aim of prescribing the right drug or drugs at the right dose to the right patient for the right disease and at the right time.

To help to increase focus on early training in essential prescribing principles and practice, in the United Kingdom the British Pharmacological Society and the Medical Schools Council supported by a national team of experts, to develop a Prescribing Skills Assessment that will eventually allow all students to rehearse and demonstrate competencies relevant to safe and effective initiation, monitoring, review and, when needed change in route, dose, duration or type of medicines alone and in combination in clinical practice, along with skills in communicating key points about medicines to patients, their carers and to relevant health professional colleagues.

See related blogs on
- Improving prevention of serious adverse drug reactions 
- Personalized medicine for better drug discovery

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