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The performance of junior doctors in applying clinical pharmacology knowledge and prescribing skills to standardized clinical cases

submitted by jinnefir 4 years and 3 months ago
Safe prescribing is a core competency in undergraduate medical education. A large proportion of undergraduate medical students and recently graduated doctors in the UK are not confident in their ability to prescribe effectively and safely. Errors are common in all healthcare settings and prescribing errors are the most common type. This study produced twelve valid and statistically reliable assessments of clinical pharmacology and therapeutics (CPT) knowledge and prescribing skills in areas that pose a high risk to patient safety. The findings show that a large proportion of foundation year 1 (FY1) doctors fail to demonstrate the level of CPT knowledge and prescribing ability judged by a subject matter expert (SME) panel to be required at this stage of their careers. We suggest strategies and areas where teaching can be focused to improve the safety and effectiveness of prescribing by FY1 doctors. Recent studies suggest a worryingly high proportion of final year medical students and new doctors feel unprepared for effective and safe prescribing. Little research has been undertaken on UK junior doctors to see if these perceptions translate into unsafe prescribing practice. We aimed to measure the performance of foundation year 1 (FY1) doctors in applying clinical pharmacology and therapeutics (CPT) knowledge and prescribing skills using standardized clinical cases. A subject matter expert (SME) panel constructed a blueprint, and from these, twelve assessments focusing on areas posing high risk to patient safety and deemed as essential for FY1 doctors to know were chosen. Assessments comprised six extended matching questions (EMQs) and six written unobserved structured clinical examinations (WUSCEs) covering seven CPT domains. Two of each assessment types were administered over three time points to 128 FY1 doctors. The twelve assessments were valid and statistically reliable. Across seven CPT areas tested 51-75% of FY1 doctors failed EMQs and 27-7% failed WUSCEs. The WUSCEs showed three performance trends; 3% of FY1 doctors consistently performing poorly, 5% performing around the passing score, and 2% performing consistently well. Categorical rating of the WUSCEs revealed 5% (8/161) of scripts contained errors deemed as potentially lethal. This study showed that a large proportion of FY1 doctors failed to demonstrate the level of CPT knowledge and prescribing ability required at this stage of their careers. We identified areas of performance weakness that posed high risk to patient safety and suggested ways to improve the prescribing by FY1 doctors.


Topic: Health

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