The need for a prescribing competency framework to address the burden of complex polypharmacy among multiple long-term conditions

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The original requirement for a competency framework for prescribers was to identify the essential skills for non-medical prescribers. However, core prescribing competencies are relevant to any prescriber. The new, revised version is especially relevant for doctors/physicians. Doctors are the most frequent prescribers – prescribing is the most common therapeutic intervention. The quantity and complexity of medicine use is increasing through multiple treatment strategies/pathways for multiple comorbidities, resulting in polypharmacy – especially with long-term conditions. This is against a background of the ongoing introduction of new drugs with novel mechanisms of action with increased risks of adverse effects, compounded by drug-drug and disease-drug interactions. This has increased the need for monitoring and follow-up, including identification and management of poor adherence. It is challenging for doctors to maintain safe and effective prescribing and train other doctors and non-medical prescribers within the multidisciplinary team.

The prescribing competency framework provides a systematic approach to support doctors to prescribe safely and effectively. It can be used by medical schools to teach prescribing, including preparation for the prescribing safety assessment; by F1/F2 doctors to support prescribing in early years; as part of prescribing quality improvement initiatives and as a continuing professional development framework in general practice or acute care settings.

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