Patient education and consumer medicine information: a study of provision by Queensland rural and remote area Registered Nurses

Desley Hegney, Ashley Plank, Jennifer M. Watson, Lisa Raith, Christine McKeon

    Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debate


    The aim of the larger study was to ascertain the medication practices of registered and enrolled nurses in rural and remote areas of Queensland after the introduction of the Health (Drugs and Poisons) Regulation. This paper reports on the findings of the role of registered nurses and their confidence in the ability to provide information on medications in a way that the client understands; the frequency of the provision of information to clients prior to discharge; and the frequency of Indigenous Health Workers or interpreters for people without English as a first language. Queensland employs approximately 17% of the Australian registered nurse workforce. In 1996 Queensland changed the Health (Drugs and Poisons) Regulation to allow specific registered nurses, who had undertaken approved postgraduate education and training programmes, to become endorsed for an expanded medication practice role. In particular, it allowed endorsed nurses to administer and supply (but not prescribe) drugs listed in a drug formulary to certain clients using protocols. It was not clear, however, whether the changes to the Regulation reflected the scope of practice, thereby providing adequate legal protection for the nurse. During 2001-02 an exploration of the medication practices of rural and remote area nurses was conducted by the use of a cross-sectional postal survey. Phase 1 of the study used a facility audit to ascertain facility medication practices and phase 2 of the study used a postal survey to ascertain nurses' medication practices. All nurses employed in rural and remote health facilities in Queensland were eligible to participate in the study. The nurse registering authority's (the Queensland Nursing Council) register was used to generate a non-proportional stratified random sample. Of the 1999 questionnaires sent, there were 668 respondents. Of these, 520 were registered nurses. The data indicated that there was a difference between endorsed and unendorsed registered nurses' medication practice. In particular, it was apparent that endorsed registered nurses were more likely to believe they could explain the side-effects of medication to clients in a way the patient understood; provided medication education to clients on discharge; and used Indigenous Health Workers or interpreters to explain medications to those clients for whom English was not a first language. However, it was apparent that < 50% of all Registered Nurses were providing client medication education or using Indigenous Health Workers or interpreters. It is apparent that the changes to the Regulation have ensured that Registered Nurses who have undergone postgraduate education to enhance their medication practice are more likely to provide client education and consumer medication information. However, the results suggest that the majority of registered nurses in Queensland, whilst believing they have sufficient knowledge of pharmacology to provide client education, often do not provide appropriate medication advice to clients, particularly on discharge from the acute setting. It is well recognized that the provision of medication education to clients has several benefits to both the client and the health care system. The lack of client medication education indicated in this study compromises patient's safety as well as their compliance with their medication regime.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)855-862
    Number of pages8
    JournalJournal of Clinical Nursing
    Issue number7
    Publication statusPublished - 2005


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