Supplementary prescribing (SP) represents a recent development in non-medical prescribing in the UK, involving a tripartite agreement between independent medical prescriber, dependent prescriber and patient, enabling the dependent prescriber to prescribe in accordance with a patient-specific clinical management plan (CMP). The aim in this paper is to review, thematically, the literature on nurse and pharmacist SP, to inform further research, policy and education.
A review of the nursing and pharmacy SP literature from 1997 to 2007 was undertaken using searches of electronic databases, grey literature and journal hand searches.
Nurses and pharmacists were positive about SP but the medical profession were more critical and lacked awareness/understanding, according to the identified literature. SP was identified in many clinical settings but implementation barriers emerged from the empirical and anecdotal literature, including funding problems, delays in practicing and obtaining prescription pads, encumbering clinical management plans and access to records. Empirical studies were often methodological weaknesses and under-evaluation of safety, economic analysis and patients’ experiences were identified in empirical studies. There was a perception that nurse and pharmacist independent prescribing may supersede supplementary prescribing.
There is a need for additional research regarding SP and despite nurses’ and pharmacists’ enthusiasm, implementation issues, medical apathy and independent prescribing potentially undermine the success of SP.