Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Pharmacists as non-medical prescribers: what role can they play? The experience in a neonatal intensive care unit
  1. Peter J Mulholland
  1. Correspondence to Peter J Mulholland, Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, Southern General Hospital, 1345 Govan Road, Glasgow G51 4TF, UK; peter.mulholland{at}


Background Independent prescribing by pharmacists is designed to:

▸ improve the quality of service to patients without compromising patient safety

▸ make it easier for patients to get the medicines they need

▸ make better use of the skills of healthcare professionals

▸ contribute to the introduction of flexible team working.

Initial experiences We implemented pharmacist prescribing in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at the Southern General Hospital, Glasgow, Scotland, in March 2005. The main barrier at the time was the large unlicensed medicine usage, resolved by subsequent changes in legislation.

UK survey of pharmacist prescribing in neonatal units An electronic survey received 45 responses. Just under half (47%) were prescribers, with 40% being independent prescribers. Most were prescribing in NICU or high dependency units (70%). 19% of those qualified were not prescribing.

Benefits of pharmacist prescribing Improvement in safety was seen as a benefit of pharmacist prescribing, with potential reduction in communication errors and the ability to make timely correction of prescriptions.

Barriers to implementation Many areas reported no barriers, with support from both consultants and nursing staff. Lack of funding and time to undertake the required training was seen as barriers by some.

Conclusions Non-medical prescribing is intended to encourage a team approach to the care and management of patients and to make the best use of the skills of trained healthcare professionals and pharmacist prescribing is an important addition to the healthcare of premature infants.

  • Prescribing

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.