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Autonomous model of prescribing medications 'harmful'

12 November, 2013

Australia's health ministers have signed off on "dangerous new prescribing pathways", potentially harming patients by allowing non-medical health professionals to autonomously prescribe medications, the Australian Medical Association (AMA) have said in a recent statement.

Dr Steve Hambleton, AMA president, said the association is calling on the health ministers to reverse this decision before there are any risks to patient safety.

"In the interests of patient safety, the AMA is strongly opposed to autonomous prescribing by non-medical health professionals," Dr Hambleton said.

"The AMA argued long and hard against the autonomous model of prescribing throughout a year-long consultation process with Health Workforce Australia (HWA), which involved an advisory group comprising a range of health professionals.

"Some on the group backed the autonomous model, claiming it would provide better access to medicines for people in areas of medical workforce shortage, but the AMA remained strongly opposed to the model.

"HWA should not have put the autonomous prescribing model to the health ministers as an option; it was very poor advice.

"Autonomous prescribing encourages fragmented health care and poses greater risks to patient safety.

"We support prescribing by non-medical professionals that is carried out within strict collaborative care arrangements in partnership with doctors.

"Most prescribing by non-medical health practitioners currently occurs in public hospitals under strict protocols.

"The AMA supports the prescribing competency framework developed by the National Prescribing Service (NPS).

"This framework sets high standards for prescribing that are currently only met by medical practitioners." 

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