Prescribing errors: moving on from indifference and denial

After years of indifference and denial about standards of prescribing, a corner has now been turned, according to the British Pharmacological Society (BPS). It says most professionals now agree that standards of prescribing must be improved and sets out plans to do so.

Commenting on the recent report from the GMC, the BPS asks why, when four out of five of its recommendations centred on education, this was not given greater emphasis?

The BPS solutions are:

  • Improving education: a national eLearning project with the Department of Health and medical schools; more opportunities for prescribing practice in training; promoting return of pharmacological and other sciences into higher education.
  • Setting improved standards and assessing them: medical student prescribing curriculum already agreed and implemented; working now on a national prescribing assessment tool for final-year medical students.
  • Providing professional guidance: launched the BPS ‘Principles of Good Prescribing’.
  • Fostering collaboration.
  • Improving the system: the introduction of a national prescription sheet for use throughout all hospitals; discussion about electronic prescribing, improved decision support and supervisory structures in first years of training.

The introduction of a prescribing assessment would aim to show that agreed standards of competence have been met before graduation.