Blind prescribing: A study of junior doctors' prescribing preparedness in an Australian emergency department

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Abstract

Objectives

The present study examined junior residents' and registrars' preparedness to prescribe in an Australian ED. It measured the medication knowledge of participants and identified antecedent factors relevant to prescribing practice.

Methods

This is a prospective, exploratory study of the prescribing practices of 40 junior doctors. Data collection consisted of a participant questionnaire with three parts. Part A comprised demographic information; Part B comprised questions regarding prescribing practices; and Part C was an objective assessment of the doctor's knowledge of the most recently and most commonly prescribed medications.

Results

One hundred percent (n = 40) of doctors in the study had inadequate knowledge about at least one medication when an accuracy threshold of <80% correct was used. Seventy percent (n = 28) of the participants had inadequate knowledge of at least one medication when the lower accuracy threshold of <50% correct was used. Comparisons between medication knowledge score and Likert confidence scales showed that even though a doctor reported being completely sure about an individual medication, they most commonly only answered between four and six of the eight questions correctly for that medication. Their use of reference materials was also lacking in relation to their knowledge and level of confidence. The reported reasons for this included instructions by senior staff and time constraints.

Conclusions

The majority of participants in the study had inadequate knowledge on medications they had most recently prescribed and medications most commonly prescribed in the ED. Junior doctors' perceptions of their medication knowledge were inflated in relation to their actual knowledge.

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