An evaluation of physiotherapist independent prescribing in Queensland

Mr Mark Cruickshank1, Prof Lisa Nissen2, Ms Sonia Sam1

1Royal Brisbane & Women’s Hospital, Brisbane, Australia, 2Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia

Background: There are many challenges facing the Australian health care sector such as an aging population, increasing burden of chronic disease, and growing community demands for responsiveness. These challenges are associated with an increasing requirement for timely access to medicines which can be restricted, particularly in rural and remote areas, primarily due to maldistribution and shortages in the traditional prescriber workforce. Non-medical prescribing is a method of increasing the number of prescribers to meet community demand for timely access to medicines.

Methods: Following the five steps of the Health Professionals Prescribing Pathway for safe and competent prescribing, Emergency Physiotherapy Practitioners (EPPs), working in primary contact musculoskeletal roles within five emergency departments in Queensland, have undertaken the required training to gain approval to autonomously prescribe under the current State legislative framework and Department of Health credentialing process.  Data is currently being collected for an 18-24 month period with the intention of recruiting all patients who may require prescribing to the extent necessary to enable EPP assessment and management. Data collected will describe the safety of physiotherapist prescribing and evaluate the patient experience and satisfaction of prescribing by physiotherapists.

Results: Preliminary data will be presented. To date over 1300 participants have been recruited to the trial with 1450 medication orders written by EPPs Statewide.  To date, no adverse events have been recorded due to physiotherapy prescriber errors and auditing of medication orders demonstrates above average compliance with national charting guidelines.  Patient experience data shows very high levels of consumer confidence and satisfaction with physiotherapy prescribing.

Discussion: The trial results to date suggest that physiotherapy prescribing can be implemented safely and with high levels of consumer confidence and satisfaction, thus improving community access to timely and appropriate medicines.


Mark Cruickshank is the Director of Physiotherapy at the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital.  He is also the Chief Investigator on the Physiotherapy defined scope of practice prescribing trial, which is a multicentre study currently being undertaken at 5 public hospital sites across Queensland.   In addition to this, Mark has a keen interest in the development of expanded and extended scope physiotherapy roles that improve the patient experience and demonstrate value to the health care sector.

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