Advice for safer paediatric prescribing
Limit the drugs you use to a well-tried few and familiarise yourself with their dosages, indications, contraindications, interactions and side-effects. Refer to a paediatric formulary when appropriate.
If you are prescribing in very small amounts of less than 1 milligram, prescribe in micrograms (written out – not abbreviated) to avoid confusion over the placing of decimal points.
When prescribing for a child, it is particularly important to give the parents all relevant information such as:
- Name of the drug
- Reason for the prescription
- How to store and administer the drug safely (if appropriate)
- Common side-effects
- How to recognise adverse reactions.
Parents must always be warned about side-effects, particularly those that will be distressing to the child. It is also helpful to remind them of the importance of storing drugs in their labelled containers and out of the child’s sight and reach.
Some practices will register substance misusers for their primary healthcare needs, but leave treatment of their addiction to a local drug treatment centre. Others may get more involved, offering prescribing services, for example. Find out what the arrangement is in your practice.
The Medical Council, in its Guide to Professional Conduct and Ethics (2009), states:
“You should ensure you have appropriate training, facilities and support before treating patients with drug dependency or abuse problems.”
It also states: “You must be aware of the dangers of drug dependency when prescribing benzodiazepines, opiates, and other drugs with addictive potential.”