Aims and objectives. To examine the prescribing practices of nurse supplementary prescribing in diabetes.
Background. Nurses in several roles are involved in the management of medicines for patients with diabetes. Nurse prescribing should help optimise these roles. Nurses in the UK have virtually the same independent prescribing rights as doctors. There is little or no evidence on the extent to which nurse supplementary prescribing is used, or the impact and activity of nurse supplementary prescribing for patients with diabetes.
Method. A random sample of 214 nurse supplementary prescribers self-completed a written questionnaire.
Results. The majority of nurses held an academic qualification at degree level or higher, had a wealth of clinical experience, worked full-time, were based in primary care and worked in general practice. The majority of nurses prescribed between one and five items a week. Oral anti-diabetic drugs, hypertension and lipid-regulating drugs and insulins were the products most often prescribed. Over 85% had undertaken specialist training in diabetes prior to undertaking the prescribing programme.
Conclusion. Supplementary prescribing provides a practical and useful framework within which to prescribe medicines for patients with diabetes and its associated complications. Specialist diabetes training is a necessary prerequisite for nurses prescribing in this area. It is evident that there is still a place for supplementary prescribing.
Implications for clinical practice. • Recent legislative changes mean that nurses can now independently prescribe practically any drug.
• Nurses in general practice appear to prescribe most frequently as a nurse supplementary prescriber for patients with diabetes.
• Nurse supplementary prescribers are likely to use this mode of prescribing to deliver medicines to patients with diabetes.
• Over two-thirds prescribe for common but serious complications of diabetes, e.g. hypertension, hyperlipidaemia and cardiovascular disease