As busy medical professionals in a hospital, our work usually entails writing numerous prescriptions per day. It is important that we maintain good prescribing habits to ensure that our treatment modalities work, and for our patients’ safety. The General Medical Council in the UK in their latest 2013 Good practice in prescribing and managing medicines and devicesnotes,
Good medical practice says that you must recognise and work within the limits of your competence and that you must keep your knowledge and skills up to date. You must maintain and develop the knowledge and skills in pharmacology and therapeutics, as well as prescribing and medicines management, relevant to your role and prescribing practice…You should make use of electronic and other systems that can improve the safety of your prescribing, for example by highlighting interactions and allergies and by ensuring consistency and compatibility of medicines prescribed, supplied and administered.
Good prescription habits should involve:
1. The right medications for the right conditions
2. The right dosage
3. The right duration of treatment
4. Awareness of side effects of medications
5. Awareness of drug interactions for the said medications
6. Clear prescriptions and instructions to the Pharmacy department.
7. Checking the prescriptions and confirming it by adding our signatures
8. Ensuring patients take the medications appropriately
9. Ensuring the staff in the wards give the medications as instructed.
These habits are not something new but what we have been doing. However we do need a reminder now and then to do a reappraisal as we are aware that habits tend to slack due to familiarity, busyness, and a tendency to take short cuts. The GMC (2013) further adds that “[y]ou should make sure that anyone to whom you delegate responsibility for dispensing medicines in your own practice is competent to do what you ask of them”.Not only is it our responsibility to prescribe but also to ensure that our patients receive our prescriptions appropriately and accurately. We need to check that our ward staff are doing that.