RCP releases prescribing support for junior doctors

The Royal College of Physicians (RCP) has today released Supporting junior doctors in safe prescribing, a new guide for supporting junior doctors when prescribing in hospitals.

The resource calls for the provision of more practical and interactive prescribing training for junior doctors to help reduce errors, as well as greater support from hospital trusts to create safer working environments for junior doctors to prescribe. It also recommends that postgraduate medical education leads work collaboratively with medication safety officers to identify opportunities to cover safe prescribing within medical education, while highlighting the need to address the safety culture around prescribing, by encouraging active efforts to learn from errors, both at an individual and system level.

Junior doctors are responsible for two thirds of all hospital prescriptions, with an estimated 7% of all hospital medication orders affected by prescribing errors.

Junior doctors are responsible for two thirds of all hospital prescriptions, with an estimated 7% of all hospital medication orders affected by prescribing errors

John Dean, RCP director of patient safety and quality improvement, said:

Prescribing of medicines is one of the commonest and most important actions undertaken by doctors. It is also one of the commonest areas where error occurs. Supporting doctors in safe prescribing, particularly in the earliest parts of their careers, is essential for safe practice. This guidance is built on published evidence and best practice, and will support medical, pharmacy and education leaders in Trusts to have good systems in place for the safety of patients and staff.

I encourage all hospital trusts and medical leads to read this resource and take on board our recommendations to ensure that prescription is an integral part of the medical curriculum across the board.

Bruce Warner, NHS England deputy chief pharmaceutical officer said:

Prescribing of medicines is one of the key ways to improve people’s health; however it is not without harm and risk. We welcome this collaborative guidance and encourage NHS trust boards to support staff in improving their systems, processes and hospital environments to make prescribing safer for everyone.

Josie Cheetham, Junior doctor representative, Student and Foundation Doctor Network (SFDN), said:

The SFDN welcomes the publication of this guidance and endorses the recommendations laid out therein. As current medical students and foundation doctors, we acknowledge the considerable efforts that have been made to support us in our commitment to being competent prescribers.

However, we feel that greater nationwide efforts are still needed to support the challenging transition to prescribing. We look forward to seeing how this guidance can be translated into feasible and effective initiatives to support prescribing by junior, in particular, newly qualified doctors.

Notes to editors

For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact Amarinder Cooner, communications adviser, RCP Care Quality Improvement Department on 020 3075 2399.

The full report is available to view at https://www.rcplondon.ac.uk/projects/patient-safety

The Royal College of Physicians

The Royal College of Physicians (RCP) plays a leading role in the delivery of high‐quality patient care by setting standards of medical practice and promoting clinical excellence. The RCP provides physicians in over 30 medical specialties with education, training and support throughout their careers.

As an independent charity representing over 33,000 fellows and members worldwide, the RCP advises and works with government, patients, allied healthcare professionals and the public to improve health and healthcare.