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Prescribing trial gets injured patients moving faster

19 August 2020

In a first for Metro South Health, advanced physiotherapists working in QEII’s Emergency Department have been given the go ahead to prescribe certain medications to patients presenting with musculoskeletal injuries such as sprains, fractures and back pain.

Participating physiotherapist, Kirsten Strudwick (pictured), said the trial was demonstrating how patient care could be enhanced within the ED setting.

“Emergency Physiotherapy Practitioners manage musculoskeletal patients autonomously within ED, but the problem is our patients are almost always in pain, which requires them to see a nurse or doctor to get some pain relief,” she said.

“By enabling physiotherapists to prescribe certain medications for our injured patients, we can cut out the need for this extra and often delayed step in the patient’s care journey. This ultimately improves patient care and flow through the ED. It also frees up the nurses and doctors to tend to other patients.”

QEII’s Director of Physiotherapy, Mark Nelson, said that prescribing rights were only granted to physiotherapists after they complete a rigorous training and approval process.  

“Prior to prescribing, physios need to undertake additional postgraduate education at university and be credentialed by Metro South Health.”

Mr Nelson said QEII had so far recruited more than 300 patients to the trial and there had been no identified safety issues resulting from physiotherapy prescribing. He said he hoped that in the future, the laws that govern prescribing would enable appropriately trained physiotherapists to prescribe as part of their usual practice, which would positively impact patient care in the ED.

“At the moment we can only do this as part of our research trial, but the data we have collected so far indicates that physio prescribing can be done safely, and patient satisfaction is consistently high.”

Ms Strudwick said she was able to support patients more effectively with the ability to prescribe medications to help with their pain, and hoped this practice would benefit the care of patients in ED beyond the length of the trial.

Last updated 18 December 2020
Last reviewed 19 August 2020

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