What competencies and skills are required when prescribing cancer therapy?

From Cancer Guidelines Wiki


Clinicians who prescribe chemotherapy, targeted therapies and supportive medications need to be equipped with the appropriate skills and competencies to ensure the safe use of these medicines.

The competency of non-medical staff in prescribing treatment (i.e. nurse practitioners, pharmacists) is beyond the scope of these guidelines.

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Evidence Summary

Prescribers should have the core competencies outlined by the National Prescribing Service (NPS): "Competencies required to prescribe medicines: Putting quality use of medicines into practice".[1]

Patient safety is optimised when prescribers possess the appropriate knowledge and skills in cancer and medication safety.

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Note: Section 1 of these guidelines (General Information, "Competency and Skills") provides additional recommendations on competency and skills relevant to cancer treatment.

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Chemotherapy and targeted therapies must only be prescribed by clinicians with appropriate skills, training and qualifications in the management of cancer.

General practitioners should only prescribe cancer chemotherapy and targeted therapies under the supervision of a medical oncologist or haematologist.

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Local accreditation processes and descriptions of scope of practice should be considered for clinicians prescribing cancer therapy and related treatment.

Prescribing should take place in the context of a management plan devised by the patient’s treating clinician and where applicable, in conjunction with the multidisciplinary team.

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  1. National Prescribing Service (NPS): Better choices, Better health. Competencies required to prescribe medicines: Putting quality use of medicines into practice. Sydney: National Prescribing Service Limited; 2012 [cited 2016 Sep] Available from: https://www.nps.org.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0004/149719/Prescribing_Competencies_Framework.pdf.

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