Nurse practitioner prescribing in Australia: a comprehensive literature review
Fong, J, Buckley, T, Cashin, A & Pont, L in press, 'Nurse practitioner prescribing in Australia: a comprehensive literature review', Australian Critical Care.
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In Australia, the nurse practitioner (NP) obtained prescriptive authority in some jurisdictions in 2001. One of the key aspects in which the scope of NPs differs from Registered Nurses (RNs) relates to the legal privilege to prescribe medications. Although NPs have had prescriptive authority in Australia since 2001, with access to the Commonwealth subsidy scheme (PBS) since 2010, little is known about NPs prescriptive patterns or outcomes of prescriptive practice.
The aim of this scoping review was to examine the extent, range and nature of research conducted in relation to NP prescribing in the Australian health context as well as identify gaps in the existing literature. Whilst considerable research has been undertaken on medical prescribing, to date there is no published review of studies regarding NP prescribing in the Australian context.
A structured search of the literature was undertaken using permutations of the following key words ‘nurse practitioner prescribing Australia’, ‘nurse practitioner and prescribing’, ‘advanced practice nurse and prescribing’, ‘nurse practitioner and Australia’. Databases where searched from January 2000 to January 2016. Databases searched include PsycInfo, Pubmed, CINAHL and Medline.
There are a number of distinguishing features of NP prescribing practices in the Australian context. Little is known about the prescribing behaviours of critical care NPs in both the international and Australian context. Key themes identified were: barriers to prescribing, attitudes to NP prescribing, frequency of prescribing, types of medications prescribed, prescribing practice behaviours and confidence in prescribing.
The impact of legislative changes on Australian NPs clinical practice and service delivery is still evolving. This review should create impetus for further research to determine the outcomes of NP prescribing on both patient and health service outcomes in the Australian healthcare context including critical care settings.