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Pharmacist prescribing in critical care: an evaluation of the introduction of pharmacist prescribing in a single large UK teaching hospital
  1. Verity J Cross1,
  2. James T Parker2,
  3. Marie-Christine Y L Law Min2,
  4. Richard S Bourne2
  1. 1 Department of Pharmacy, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Northern General Hospital, Sheffield, UK
  2. 2 Departments of Pharmacy and Critical Care, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Northern General Hospital, Sheffield, UK
  1. Correspondence to James T Parker; james.parker{at}


Objectives To evaluate the introduction of pharmacist independent prescribing activity across three general critical care units within a single large UK teaching hospital. To identify the prescribing demographics including total of all prescriptions, number prescribed by pharmacists, reason for pharmacist prescription, range of medications prescribed, pharmacist prescribing error rate and the extent of pharmacist second ‘clinical check’.

Methods Retrospective evaluation of e-prescribing across all general critical care units of a single large UK teaching hospital. All prescribing data were downloaded over a 1-month period (May to June 2016) with analysis of pharmacist prescribing activity including rate, indication, therapeutic class and error rate.

Results In total, 5374 medicines were prescribed in 193 patients during the evaluated period. Prescribing pharmacists were available on the units on 60.4% (58/96) of days, during their working hours and accounted for 576/5374 (10.7%) of medicines prescribed in 65.2% (126/193) of patients. The majority (342/576) of pharmacist prescriptions were for new medicines. Infections, central nervous system, and nutrition/blood were the top three British National Formulary (BNF) therapeutic categories, accounting for 63.4% (349/576) of all pharmacist prescriptions. The critical care pharmacist prescribing error rate was 0.18% (1/550).

Conclusions Pharmacist independent prescribers demonstrated a high degree and wide-ranging scope of prescribing activity in general critical care patients. Pharmacists contributed a significant proportion of total prescribing, despite less than full service coverage. Prescribing activity was also safe with a very low error rate recorded.

  • pharmacist
  • prescribing
  • critical care
  • intensive care
  • non-medical prescribing
  • error rate
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