Good Practice in Prescribing

Key Points
  • All healthcare professionals must to be up to date with relevant law, best clinical practice, and requirements and recommendations by relevant professional bodies.
  • It is essential to recognise the limits of your competence and work within them.
  • You should have adequate knowledge of the patient’s health before prescribing and should be satisfied that the treatment is in the best interests of the patient.
  • Patients do not always take medicines as intended. If this becomes apparent, further support and information should be provided.
  • Ensure suitable arrangements are in place for monitoring, follow-up and review, taking account of the patient’s needs and any risks arising from the medicines.
  • When prescribing at the recommendation of another doctor, nurse or other healthcare professional, you must satisfy yourself that the prescription is needed, appropriate for the patient and that prescribing the medicine is within the limits of your competence. Ensure good communication with the patient’s primary prescriber.
  • Prescribing and administration errors by doctors are relatively common. Patients should be protected from harm and any decision or action that you consider might be unsafe should be questioned.
  • When a patient presents with complex needs, consider the consultation and involvement of other relevant specialities (eg, palliative care, mental health, substance misuse).


Further Reading

  • General Medical Council. Good practice in prescribing and managing medicines and devices. 2013.
  • Health and Social Care Professions Council. Standards for Prescribing. 2013
  • National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. Guideline NG5: Medicines optimisation: the safe and effective use of medicines to enable the best possible outcomes. 2015
  • National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. Guideine NG46: Safe use and management of controlled drugs. 2016
  • Nursing and Midwifery Council. Standards of record keeping proficiency for Guidance for nurses and midwives nurse and midwife prescribers. 2006
  • Royal Pharmaceutical Society. Prescribing competency framework. 2016.