Nurses’ reported use of standing orders in primary health care settings
Journal of Primary Health Care
7(1) 34 - 41
AbstractINTRODUCTION: The Medicines (Standing Order) Amendment Regulations 2011 allow medicines to be supplied or administered to a patient by a nurse in the absence of a medical practitioner and without a prescription. Regulations have been in place since 2002, but no substantive research has occurred in New Zealand concerning their use. AIM: This paper reports a survey of registered nurses (RNs) who work in primary health care (PHC) settings and explores aspects of their practice relating to their use of standing orders. METHODS: A self-reported survey using a non-probability sample of RNs working in PHC who use standing orders in their practice (n=231). Data were analysed descriptively. RESULTS: The sample were experienced RNs (mean 24 years since registration) and 53% have a postgraduate qualification. Some nurses’ understanding of a standing order included provision of a prescription to a patient. Standing orders were used frequently (42% reported use 1 to >5 times/day) for a wide variety of conditions. There is a significant relationship between undertaking the stated professional development requirements and confidence in the clinical decisions made (p=0.025). Over half (52%) would like to use standing orders more often. DISCUSSION: Standing orders are used extensively in PHC settings. The conditions nurses are involved in treating are usually already differentiated or have a high degree of diagnostic certainty. Nurses can effectively provide medicines under standing orders when doctors support their use, issue evidence-based orders, and have confidence in nurses with advanced skills. Doctors need to meet their responsibilities under the Regulations.
© CSIRO 2015