October 18th, 2011 | The Blog
Nurse prescribers face several challenges related to their prescribing powers, including general opposition and lack of progression. However, new vindication from a pilot study on alcohol addiction in the UK shows how nursing prescription practices have provided improvements in patient care.
Alcoholism, a pandemic problem in the UK, is responsible for a range of health problems, including increased risks for depression, brain and heart damage, as well as liver disease. Additionally, people with alcohol dependence drink despite social, family and/or job problems created as a result of the drinking.
Nursing Times in the UK reports that the program initiated in the pilot study a year ago is now implemented as standard practice:
“Rotherham, Doncaster and South Humber NHS Foundation Trust has officially replaced its traditional medical prescription system for detox and anti-cravings drugs with nurse prescribing, following a successful pilot.”
“Previously, a service user would typically need to wait seven weeks for an appointment with a doctor, but this has now been reduced to three weeks since the introduction of the nurse prescribing pilot in October 2010, according to the trust.”
Many patients could truly benefit from decreased treatment wait times. In medicine, quick responses to treatment is typically desired, and by cutting the bureaucratic waiting game, patients could begin healing and get on their road to recovery more quickly. A complication in the case is alcohol addiction is toxicity–people in the process of poisoning themselves with alcohol tend to get worse, often very rapidly and without prompt countermeasures. With delayed treatment, patients with alcohol dependence may go from a remedial state to a far worse condition prior to starting a program.
There are also primary behavioral issues with alcoholism. Treatment under conventional methods takes about 7 weeks to begin. When considering how difficult it can be for alcoholic to voluntarily accept treatment, it is best to begin as soon as possible. The new nursing program in the UK exemplifies good “preventative” medicine, reducing the lag time between an initial decision to seek treatment and results.
The tide may be turning in favor of nurse prescribing, which is good news for nurses fighting for the recognition of the benefits. Hopefully this program and others like it will build an irrefutable case for clinical practices in the future.