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Journal of Primary Health Care Journal of Primary Health Care Society
Journal of The Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners

Nurses’ reported use of standing orders in primary health care settings

Jill Wilkinson

Journal of Primary Health Care 7(1) 34 - 41
Published: 2015


INTRODUCTION: 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

Committee on Publication Ethics

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