UK Paramedics Set to Prescribe Medicines

Advanced paramedics in England are now able to prescribe medicines to people who do not need hospital treatment, under new laws that started April 1st. Up to seven out of 10 people currently seen by advanced care paramedics may need help – but not a hospital visit.

Paramedics only have a limited ability to supply medicines at the moment but will now be able to do this without delay or the patient seeing their primary care physician.

Rachel Power, The Patients Association chief executive, called it “good news”. She added: “It will make it easier for them to receive treatment at home, eliminate the need to see a second professional in many cases and reduce the need for transportation into the hospital that isn’t clinically necessary. Rather, they will be able to start treatment without delay, which for some will be critical.”

Some advanced paramedics already work in GP practices, where they usually look after urgent same-day patient requests, including some home visits, and others who work in emergency departments will also be able to prescribe medicines, allowing doctors to see more needy patients.

A spokesperson for the National Health Service, England,  said: “Increasing the range of treatments offered by paramedics closer to people’s homes is another significant step in transforming emergency care, as ambulance clinicians increasingly become part of community urgent treatment services.”

Gerry Egan, chief executive of the College of Paramedics said: “Independent prescribing legislation is a huge endorsement of the paramedic profession and the role it plays in providing safe, high-quality care for patients in urgent and emergency care.”

Paramedics in many jurisdictions in the USA administer a variety of emergency medications; the individual medications vary widely, based on physician (medical director) direction and local law. These drugs may include Adenocard (Adenosine), which stops and resets a heart that is beating too rapidly, and Atropine, which speeds a heartbeat that is too slow.

The list may include sympathomimetics like dopamine for severe hypotension (low blood pressure) and cardiogenic shock. Diabetics often benefit from the fact that paramedics are able to give D50W (Dextrose 50%) to treat hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). They can treat crisis and anxiety conditions.

Some advanced paramedics may also be permitted to perform rapid sequence induction – a rapid way of obtaining an advanced airway with the use of paralytics and sedatives.