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Regulations will provide greater consistency

New Standing Order Regulations will provide greater consistency

NEW health regulations coming into force next month will provide a strengthened framework for delegated powers to nurses and some other healthcare workers, to supply and administer medicines.

Standing Order Regulations, announced by the Ministry of Health today, are written instructions issued by a medical practitioner or dentist which authorise people such as registered nurses, paramedics and physiotherapists, to supply and administer certain medicines.

The main aim of the regulations is to allow greater consistency and assist those involved to show the line of responsibility for getting and administering medication is traceable to written instructions authorised and signed by the responsible person (usually a medical practitioner) and agreed to by all the staff involved.

A uniform approach will also help ensure safe and effective treatment of patients.

The Ministry is now encouraging doctors and dentists to develop written protocols for standing orders in accordance with the Ministry's Guidelines for the Development and Operation of Standing Orders.

Standing orders are commonly used in hospitals, public health services, sexual health services, ambulance services and primary rural health services, but application of standing orders varied among providers and there was a lack of clarity over whether they were legally permissible under the Medicines Act 1981.

Ministry of Health Chief Advisor Nursing Frances Hughes, said the regulations will greatly assist nurses because they will now be able to function within a clear legal framework.

Ms Hughes said many hospitals already worked under standing orders. "Now that we're going to get national consistency around the country regarding standing orders it will reduce nurses' vulnerability, and will let them be sure they're practising in a legal manner."

In 2000 the Ministry issued a consultation document on proposals to establish standing order regulations, which will come into force on December 19, 2002.

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