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BBC: "Nurse prescribing to be extended"

April 14, 2004 -- According to a brief, unsigned BBC News Online report dated today, the British government has proposed adding 60 drugs to the list of 180 medications that "qualified nurses" can already prescribe, in order to better utilize the nurses' skills and improve patient access to emergency care.

The article notes that the expansion would be particularly useful in the A&E (accident and emergency) setting, as nurses would be able to prescribe "for a range of illnesses including respiratory, circulatory, eye and gastrointestinal conditions, infections, poisoning and substance dependence." The piece says that about 2,000 U.K. nurses now have the rights to prescribe medications from the current list, and about 25,000 "district and community nurses" can prescribe from a smaller list. The Royal College of Nursing reportedly welcomed the proposal, though it noted through a spokesman that the proposal was "cautious" and that the College "would like to see the entire British National Formulary - the drugs database - opened up to nurses." The article alluded to patient safety-related "limitations" on nurses' ability to prescribe, but did not explain exactly what those were. It was also unclear what specific qualifications were required for nurses with expanded prescription rights, which would seem to be a key part of any discussion of the scope of nurse prescribing privileges.

See the article Nurse prescribing to be extended." in the April 14, 2004 edition of the BBC News Online.

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