Simplifying prescriptions for Scotland

Scottish NHS boards trial a new prescribing system designed to standardised records and minimise errors.

As part of the Single Prescription and Administration Record for Scotland (SPARS) project, Tayside, Western Isles and Highland health boards will use a new standardised prescribing chart in a bid to reduce the number of errors made on prescriptions.

The new prescribing chart, developed by the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh (RCPE) with Healthcare Improvement Scotland (HIS) and approved by various clinicians, offers a more uniform document designed to minimise the opportunity for errors and improve record keeping.

Research suggests that around 7% of prescriptions in Scottish hospitals contained a mistake, the majority of which were made by trainee doctors who blamed the errors on high workloads and time pressures.

It is hoped that the trial will help develop a ‘fit for purpose’ prescribing chart that can be introduced into all hospitals across the county, reducing the opportunity for error on drug dosage and type throughout the NHS.

Therese Fyffe, director of the Royal College of Nursing in Scotland, praised the RCPE and HIS for “taking the initiative” in standardising prescription charts.

“Medication administration is an important nursing task and demanding workloads, combined with increased volume and complex prescribed medication, can increase the risk of medication errors,” she said.

“A standardised chart will support a consistent approach to medication record keeping, reducing variations in practice and errors and enhancing patient safety.”