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Helping new medical graduates to prescribe safely

Prescribing drugs

Doctors who have recently graduated from medical school have to prescribe safely from day one on the wards. Their task is made harder by the many new drugs that have been introduced, as well as the rapid throughput of patients who are often sicker and older and who are more likely to suffer adverse drug reactions (drug side effects).

A new project funded by the West Midlands Strategic Health Authority (SHA) has brought together a team of experts from Aston University and Birmingham and Warwick Medical Schools to respond to the challenges of safe prescribing.

SCRIPT (Standard Computerised Revalidation Instrument for Prescribing and Therapeutics), is an innovative, e-learning toolkit to encourage safe prescribing.

SCRIPT will introduce 40 key modules that will reflect the basic needs of FY1 doctors (the complete list can be found at www.aston.ac.uk/script). This will enable doctors to undertake basic revision and reach minimum standards in prescribing and enable them to build upon their existing skills in safe and rational prescribing.

The Toolkit will be launched in June 2011, but with staggered ‘go live’ dates throughout the year.  Five modules went live at the end of September - Prescription Documentation, Medication Errors, Allergy and Anaphylaxis, Peri-operative Prescribing and Dangerous Drugs.

Prof John Marriott, who is the SCRIPT Programme Manager at Aston, said; "Prescribing skills have been identified as a skill set of FY1 doctors that needs re-enforcement since pressures on junior doctor learning are immense, sub-optimal prescribing can impose a burden on public health and jeopardise patient safety. Improving the prescribing skills of doctors during their formative professional years will improve patient safety in the short term, and may bring long-term benefits in safe and rational prescribing.

"Through our expert working groups, and in collaboration with our content authors, the SCRIPT team will establish the level of knowledge required about commonly used and important drugs. Many e-learning packages aim to develop specific formularies in response to the perceived need for knowledge about a set number of drugs. We are not planning an electronic formulary, as it would not be transferable throughout the region owing to local variations in practice and specific hospital formularies. We will therefore provide for indexing of drugs and tagging of potentially dangerous drugs within the design of the SCRIPT toolkit."

Words by Sally Finn


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