Queensland University of Technology (QUT) is overhauling medical prescription training assessment for medical students in a push to reduce errors.
PROFESSOR LISA NISSEN is leading a team to develop new guidelines for assessing medical students who learn prescribing skills to reduce errors in medical prescriptions. Currently one in 10 prescriptions contains errors.
Prof Nissen, head of Clinical Sciences at QUT and Dr Paul Bennett a senior lecturer also in the Faculty of Health, has attracted $294,000 in federal Department of Education funding.
In a statement, Professor Nissen said the most common medications incorrectly prescribed included nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs,) anticoagulants, antirheumatics, antihypertensives and cardiovascular agents. Prof Nissen said the problem was not unique to Australia with research in the UK finding that one in 20 prescriptions written by GPs contained an error with one in 550 being a serious error.
“The most common errors related to ‘incomplete information’ being provided by doctors and included a failure to adequately monitor medications (e.g. anticoagulants) and also prescribing medications that patients were known (documented) to be allergic to,” she said.
Professor Nissen said there was a need to ensure all health graduates in Australia had well-defined prescribing skills, where needed, to enable them to competently prescribe medicines for patients.
“Students studying a range of disciplines at universities across the country learn prescribing skills so the tools we develop will be comprehensive and of benefit to universities Australia wide, but ultimately it’s patients who will benefit the most,” Professor Nissen said.
“We will investigate existing assessments used to evaluate prescribing competency and develop a toolkit to guide future assessment processes.
“The toolkit will be developed in conjunction with other universities and teaching bodies who currently teach prescribing.”
Professor Nissen said the toolkit would comprise overarching principles identified in the National Prescribing Competencies Framework and specific assessment methods for use in relation to the many healthcare disciplines in university and clinical settings.