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Queensland University of Technology (QUT) has secured $294,000 from
the Federal Department of Education to develop guidelines for assessing
medical students and others who learn prescribing skills.
Australian research has shown there are
around 80,000 medicine-related hospital
admissions each year with about 30,000
of these being preventable. They account
for around 3% of all hospital admissions.
The project is being led by Professor Lisa
Nissen, head of Clinical Sciences at QUT
and Dr Paul Bennett a senior lecturer
also in the Faculty of Health.
Professor Nissen said prescribing was a
very complex task and errors could have
significant health impacts on patients
and even result in death.
She said the most common medications
incorrectly prescribed included
nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
(NSAIDs,) anticoagulants, antirheumatics,
antihypertensives and cardiovascular
agents. The problem was not unique to
Australia. Research in the UK found that
one in 20 prescriptions written by GPs
contained an error with one in 550 being
a serious error.
'The most common errors related to
'incomplete information' being provided
by doctors and included a failure
to adequately monitor medications
(e.g. anticoagulants) and also prescribing
medications that patients were known
(documented) to be allergic to,' she said.
Professor Nissen said all health graduates
in Australia need to have well-defined
prescribing skills to enable them to
competently prescribe medicines for
'Students studying a range of disciplines
at universities across the country learn
prescribing skills so the tools we develop
will be comprehensive and of benefit
to universities Australia wide, but
ultimately it's patients who will benefit
'We will investigate existing assessments
used to evaluate prescribing
competency and develop a toolkit to
guide future assessment processes.
The toolkit will be developed in
conjunction with other universities and
teaching bodies who currently teach
The toolkit will comprise overarching
principles identified in the National
Prescribing Competencies Framework
and specific assessment methods
for use in relation to the many
healthcare disciplines in university and
Antibiotic resistance remains a threat
Antibiotic resistance in Australia remains
a serious health problem in spite of
a breakthrough in the quest to find
new antibiotics NPS MedicineWise
Dr Lynn Weekes, CEO of NPS
MedicineWise, says that while the
discovery of teixobactin was significant,
it could be many years before it will
'While the discovery of teixobactin is
a promising breakthrough, actually
bringing this new antibiotic to market
will be a very lengthy process as it
undergoes further studies and then
testing in humans,' Dr Weekes said.
'We cannot afford to become
complacent about the very real and
immediate issue of antibiotic resistance.
'We risk losing the effect of existing
antibiotics in the short term if the
high rate of antibiotic use continues in
Australia. Teixobactin is not a quick fix
and won't provide defence against all
bacteria. For example, it is not effective
against any bacteria which have an
outer membrane, known as 'gram
negative' bacteria, such as E. coli.
'Multidrug resistant E. coli in urinary tract
infections (UTIs) is present in Australia.
E. coli now displays resistance rates
to over 50% of commonly used
antibiotics, and some strains have
acquired resistance to more than
According to NPS MedicineWise
Australia has one of the highest rates
of antibiotic use in the world with more
than 24 million antibiotic prescriptions
written every year.
NPS MedicineWise is part way through
a five-year campaign to reduce
inappropriate antibiotic prescribing
in Australia by 25%. The campaign
encourages all Australians to be
responsible with antibiotics and join the
fight against antibiotic resistance.
'There are simple steps that health
professionals and individuals can
take to ensure they use antibiotics
judiciously and appropriately. For health
professionals this means adhering to
best practice prescribing guidelines, and
for the community it is important not
to pressure your doctor for antibiotics
when you have a cold or flu because
these are not bacterial infections,'
Dr Weekes said.
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