Nurses and pharmacists can prescribe as effectively as doctors

Weeks G, George J, Maclure K, Stewart D. Non-medical prescribing versus medical prescribing for acute and chronic disease management in primary and secondary care. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2016;(11):CD011227

Prescribing by suitably-trained pharmacists and nurses offers similar outcomes to prescribing by doctors, at least in the management of chronic conditions.

This Cochrane review pooled clinical outcomes and patient satisfaction across 45 studies of nurse or pharmacist prescribing compared with doctor prescribing.

Most studies were of chronic disease management in primary care settings in high income countries (25 from the US and six from the UK).

Independent and supplementary prescribers in the NHS include not only the nurses and pharmacists, as covered in this review, but also other professions such as podiatrists, optometrists, and physiotherapists. At a time of high demand for NHS resources, with shortages of doctors in some specialties, prescribing by other professionals may help ease the workload, but safety, time and costs of training need to be considered.

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