Junior doctor survival kit
It is important to know when drugs cause more harm than benefit
Prescribing as a junior doctor is a daunting task. No pharmacology textbook can prepare you for the responsibility of signing your name on a drug chart and giving the drug to your patient. However, despite the need for junior doctors to be able to prescribe safely and effectively from day one,1 there is variation between medical schools in how prescribing is taught. So, how should students ensure that they are ready for ward prescribing? Students cannot legally practise prescribing on patients, so how can they prepare?
Drug errors are a major cause of patient morbidity and mortality, hence prescribing was a key area targeted by the United Kingdom’s former National Patient Safety Agency.2 According to a 2009 report by the General Medical Council (GMC), 9% of hospital prescriptions analysed contained errors. Foundation year 1 doctors (those in their first year after qualifying) made 8.4% of these errors, and foundation year