Comparing nurse prescribing and PGD use in a UK emergency department

Nurses in a London emergency department were providing appropriate medication under the different mechanisms of independent nurse prescribing and Patient Group Directions (PGDs), with some notable differences, according to this cross-sectional review.

The researchers reviewed notes from 617 episodes of care, 382 using independent nurse prescribing and 235 using PGDs. Analysis of the results revealed more frequent prescribing by the prescribing nurses, with appropriate medication given in all but one case (where penicillin was prescribed for an allergic patient, highlighting the importance of history-taking). All medications received by patients in the PGD group were appropriate, although documented less consistently, but over 10% were not covered within the PGD – it was not clear how a prescription was obtained for these from the patient notes. This highlights the limitations of PGDs. The nurses in this department managed a wide range of conditions, with pain relief being the most common type of medication supplied.

Black A and Dawood M. A comparison in independent nurse prescribing and patient group directions by nurse practitioners in the emergency department: A cross sectional review. Int. Emerg Nurs 2013; published online 6 May.