Prescribing medicines is the intervention that most doctors make to restore or preserve the health of their patients and is the major tool used by modern healthcare systems to improve public health. Prescribing also carries significant risks related to adverse drug reactions and interactions, often caused by injudicious prescribing decisions, as well as prescribing errors. Prescribing is a complex and challenging task involving several sub-components.
Being a good prescriber is an progressive challenge in modern healthcare with increasing demands as a result of several trends such as the increasing number of medicines available and indications for prescribing them, the greater complexity of treatment regimens taken by individual patients (‘polypharmacy’), and the trend to treat more elderly and vulnerable patients. The purpose of this chapter is to elaborate on some of the principles that should underpin prescribing in these circumstances.