Objective of the prescription is to convey the Physician/Practitioner’s intent to a pharmacist holistically and completely. The chain of drug administration can be broken at any point from the sequence below:
- Ordering (Physician/Practitioner.)
- Transcribing (Physician/Practitioner/Other Healthcare Staff.)
- Dispensing (Pharmacist and their team.)
- Administering (Pharmacist/Nurse/Patient/Other help.)
In my opinion latin terms have added to the issue unnecessarily. Top it off with the abbreviations and we have increasing risk of errors. (Yes I realize that the abbreviations are for efficiency but error in prescription is more harmful than the advantage of writing fast.)
There are many studies, guidances, best practices, etc. to help with this situation. The series of articles here is intended to simplify and present how to write a prescription. Examples given are by no means intended as prescriptions for any patient.
Here is a list of points to keep in mind while prescribing, transcribing, dispensing, or administering the medication:
- Strive to be clear even if it means sacrificing the use of an efficient term. Follow-up with the pharmacist and/or patient for the sake of clarity.
- Be verbose where confusion can occur. For example: JCAHO asks to not use q.d. for the word daily, they suggest to spell out the word instead.
- Take special care when writing a, o, and numbers.
- Decimal point and zeros need special care.
- Legibility is important. Our chicken-scratches make the drug administration error prone.
- Some ePrescription programs lack good data in their databases. In such cases an attempt to force a prescription through the system by using notes section etc., can cause errors.
- Never shy away from double checking if you feel that you need further clarity.
In the next part we will look at the structure of a prescription/recipe and the terms used for various parts of it.