NPC Archive Item: Are Patient Group Directions (PGDs) the Safest Route for your Service?

NOTE – This is an archive post from the NPC and has not been updated since first publication. Therefore, some hyperlinks may no longer be working.

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Patient Group Directions (PGDs) take a significant amount of time and resource to develop and implement1. The PGD website has recently written a guidance tool to help you consider whether they are the most appropriate option for your service and ultimately of benefit to patient care. The tool provides some examples to demonstrate where PGDs would be most and least appropriate, and lists key points that you will need to consider1.

What is the Background to this?
The Department of Health defines PGDs as ‘documents which make it legal for medicines to be given to groups of patients – for example in a mass casualty situation – without individual prescriptions having to be written for each patient’2. Patient care will normally be provided on a patient-specific basis, but the supply and administration of medicines under PGDs should be reserved for those limited situations where this offers an advantage for the patient without compromising patient safety3. Careful thought should therefore be encouraged for the use of PGDs in comparison to other available options for the supply and administration of medicines.

The PGDs tool guide will:

  • Provide you with examples of situations where PGDs work well and where they should not be used. This will help you to consider whether a PGD is an appropriate option for you to take.
  • Help you with your decision making when developing or re-designing your service.
  • Encourage you to give careful thought and consideration of legislation, clinical governance and medicines access using PGDs compared to other available options.

So What?
If used appropriately PGDs will help to contribute to a safe, timely and accessible delivery of patients’ medicines.

Use the PGD guidance tool to help you with your decision making and when developing and re-designing your service to determine whether PGDs are an appropriate option.

Item details

1 National Electronic Library for Medicines – PGD website (2008) New tool and updated FAQ on PGD website ’Are PGDs the safest route for your service?’. Accessed August 14th 2008.
2 Department of Health (2008) ‘Patient Group Directions (PGDs)’. Accessed 14th August 2008
3 Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) (2008). Patient Group Directions in the NHS. Accessed 14th August 2008.

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