The problem with non-medical prescribing

The problem with non medical prescribing


Imagine you’ve hired a well-regarded handyman to do some home-improvements. One day you notice he is working on the electrical wiring in the kid’s entertainment area. “Isn’t that a job for the electrician?” you ask.

“No worries,” is his answer, “I’m qualified to do this as I’ve just finished the course ‘Terminate cables, cords and accessories in hazardous area installations.'”

Are you reassured? If you’re like me, you would be concerned. Very concerned.

It would be different if you knew that the handyman was only allowed to do, let’s say switches and light bulbs, and was supervised by a qualified electrician.

Ofcourse it would be easier if the handyman could do it all. Perhaps a bit quicker too. But I’d still have serious safety concerns.

It’s not much different when it comes to prescribing medicines. This is very complex and can go very wrong.

Non-medical prescribing (prescribing by non-doctors) should only occur, like the AMA says, in a medically led and delegated team environment and only in the context of ‘role delegation’, not ‘task substitution’.

Problems with regards to access should be solved in another way, such as reducing the non-medical workload of doctors including red-tape (like the PBS prescription authority hotline).

To those accusing doctors of protecting their turf: ‘First do no harm’, is still a good principle in medicine. In health politics many decisions are made because ‘they seemed like a good idea at the time’ and sound evidence to support these decisions is, unfortunately, often not available.

3 thoughts on “The problem with non-medical prescribing

  1. The HWA HPPP is a dangerous path: no evidence that it’s needed or will improve patient outcomes: in fact fragmentation of care will rule the day and quality continuity goes out of the window!


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