Many Doctors Inadequately Trained for Prescribing Medicine to Children

Research published in Archives of Disease in Childhood suggests that inadequate training among healthcare professionals increases the risk of prescribing errors for childrens’ medicines. Children are especially vulnerable to mistaken prescribing because formulations are not designed specifically for them, and doses have to be individually figured.

Existing research revealed that junior doctors did not know what to prescribe for chest infections or anaphylaxis. The authors were able to find only two studies relevant to the teaching of prescribing skills, and these showed that the error rate fell after the introduction of specific techniques; but the conclusions did not show which had been most effective.

The survery generated a response rate of 57%, with 319 out of 559 questionnaires returned. They showed that training in the avoidance of mistakes in prescribing childrens’ medications was brief, and primarily veral with little practical training.

Eleven centers taught doctors how to complete a drug chart, with another seven reviewing common errors. Only one center offred a computer-based prescribing course showing the correct calculaton of drug doses. In thirteen centers the training amounted to a presentation by specialist pharmacists, of between 30 and 60 minutes, while another ten centers simply gave trainees an induction pack with written information. Only three centers tested prescribing competency.

This research may not present a complete picture of current prescribing training, say the authors, but meanwhile there are no national standards on the teaching of prescribing medicines for children. So that finding which teaching methods are most effective in reducing errors, if any, has geat mportance.

Source: (em>First Arch Dis Child 2007; doi: 10.1136/adc.2007.127761

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