A new trial that will make it easier to prescribe medicines is set to get under way in Scottish hospitals.
Tayside, Western Isles and Highland NHS Boards will all take part in the Single Prescription and Administration Record for Scotland (SPARS) project.
The trial will work on developing a new standardised prescribing and administration chart to cut out errors in prescribing wrong doses or the wrong drug by clinical staff.
The new standardised chart, designed by the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh and approved by doctors, pharmacists and nurses, will provide a simpler and more uniform document to be used across all hospitals and wards.
It is hoped that if the trial, which begins in April, is successful then the chart will be rolled out nationally across Scotland.
“This initiative, which proposes to streamline processes for capturing accurate records, will improve nursing practice”
Theresa Fyffe, director of the Royal College of Nursing in Scotland, commended the Royal College of Physician of Edinburgh and Healthcare Improvement Scotland for “taking the initiative” to standardise adult in-patient 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. A standardised chart will support a consistent approach to medication record keeping, reducing variations in practice and errors and enhancing patient safety,” she said.
“This initiative, which proposes to streamline processes for capturing accurate records, will improve nursing practice. We hope the results of the pilot of this prescription chart with three NHS Health boards in Scotland will help with the introduction and adoption of a ‘fit-for-purpose’ chart,” she added
Research has suggested that around 7% of prescriptions in Scottish hospitals contained an error, a rate similar to that in England and internationally, according to previous studies.
Busy trainee doctors were often found to be at fault for the avoidable errors in written prescriptions. Typically, they were responsible for more than 50% of prescriptions in hospitals, and having to deal with different charts while on rotation was a contributing factor in many of their mistakes.
Trainee doctors blamed the errors on workload and time pressures.