In order to streamline prescriptions of drugs by doctors, Chief Secretary of J&K, during a review meeting, called for a prescription audit. He also asked the Department to ensure that all doctors produce their seal and signature on the prescription card, in case the prescribed drugs include non-generic medicines to be procured from the market.
Prescription is an important means of therapeutic intervention by a doctor which reflects his approach towards safe prescribing. It’s a well researched fact that inappropriate use of drugs is a global health problem, especially in developing countries. Irrational prescriptions have an ill effect on health as well as health-care expenditure.
Prescription auditing is an important tool to improve the quality of prescriptions, which in turn improves the quality of health care provided.
It is important that the prescription is in line with the best practices mentioned in the World Health Organization guidelines as well as the National Accreditation Board for Hospitals and Healthcare which was founded in 2006. In a step towards meeting this endeavor, the Health and Medical Education Department had formed a committee comprising doctors (Medical Superintendents) and Nodal Officers (doctors) to conduct prescription audits in Government Medical Colleges of Jammu and Srinagar and its Associated Hospitals. The panels had been tasked to prepare and submit fortnightly reports to the respective HODs, who shall prepare a comprehensive monthly report along with their recommendations, highlighting the actionable points, which shall be submitted to the Administrative Department. The panels, if still in practice, need to check if the medical practitioners are indulging in practices that go against medical ethics such as prescribing medicine not even required by the patient for mere promotional purposes. According to a survey conducted by Pune-based Support for Advocacy and Training to Health Initiatives (SATHI), pharmaceutical companies’ lure doctors with high-value bribes through medical representatives. On the other hand, doctors’ bodies questioned its authenticity. Indian Medical Association (IMA) blamed a few “miscreants” who according to it give a bad name to the entire community. It would be unfair to blame the entire community but at the same time there is no denial that promotional practices eventually lead to irrational prescriptions and pushing of high-cost drugs. One cannot ignore the complexity of the medical field and beyond doubt, a well-meaning ethical doctor may prescribe an expensive brand of the drug only for a better outcome. It is imperative for the government to take appropriate measures for the holistic clinical audit and quality improvement process that seeks to improve patient care.