Aim With pressures on junior doctors' availability in the NHS, non-medical prescribing is topical. Independent Nurse Prescribers (INPs) can prescribe any licensed medicine for any medical condition within their level of competence.1 An audit was undertaken of the four INPs employed by the Respiratory Department evaluating current prescribing practices.
Method The requirement for this audit was identified by the multidisciplinary team (MDT) and Trust approval was obtained. A data collection form was designed capturing patient demographics and full details of prescribed items.
Over a 3 month period (August to October 2014) outpatient cystic fibrosis (CF) and respiratory prescriptions were studied using cluster sampling. Over a 6 week period prescription requests by CF INPs faxed to General Practitioners (GPs) were reviewed. INPs also prescribe via telephone, documenting advice on trust forms; these were preliminarily audited. All data was analysed using Microsoft Excel. Legality of prescriptions and adherence to national and local guidelines were evaluated. Reference keys were used to designate non-adherence post-application of exclusion criteria.
Results A total of 77 outpatient prescriptions (45 CF and 32 respiratory) were completed by the 4 INPs, containing 122 items (72 CF and 50 respiratory). Of the CF prescribed items 21 were oral antibiotics (29%). Respiratory INPs mainly prescribed 14 inhaler devices (28%) and 12 inhaled bronchodilators (24%).
All INP prescriptions met legal requirements. Basic details of medicinal products (drug name and dose) were documented for all items. A key finding was that duration/quantity was not indicated for 27 (54%) respiratory items.
After applying exclusion criteria, of the CF prescribed items, 56/59 (95%) adhered to national guidelines and 47/66 (71%) followed local guidelines. The leading reason for not following local guidelines was not documenting allergy status. Of the respiratory prescribed items, 34 (100%) adhered to national guidelines and 31/32 (97%) followed local guidelines.
A total of 33 faxes (with 38 items) were completed and 35 items (92%) were oral antibiotics. Drug name, dose and frequency were stated for all items. From the faxed items, 38 (100%) adhered to national guidelines and 32/33 (97%) followed local guidelines.
Over 5 days, CF INPs provided telephone advice for 12 patients. Of these, 6 patients had respiratory exacerbation. Telephone advice led to faxes being sent to GPs for 9 patients. This was preliminary data with a re-audit planned after amendment of trust form.
Conclusion Overall INP prescribing was found to be safe and effective. This review enabled education of the respiratory team of prescribing practices via a local audit meeting. The positive contribution that INPs provide to patient care was highlighted as they improve the patient journey and support the MDT. The demand for INP prescribing in particular with CF has provided opportunity for a pharmacist prescriber to join the CF MDT. It is recommended medical and pharmacist prescribing to be reviewed.
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