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Prescription - Parts, Handling and Sources of Errors


A prescription is a written communication or interaction from a a registered medical practitioner or other licensed practitioner to a pharmacist containing information regarding the dispensing of prescribed medication.
A typical prescription consists of the following parts-

1. Date

The date of prescribing and the date of presentation for filling are necessary for keeping accurate records and ascertaining the needs of the patient. Narcotic and habit-forming drugs must bear the date, so as to avoid the misuse of prescription. Date required for a right time dispensing of medication.

2. Name, address, and age of the patient

The name, address and age of the patient help to identify the prescription. Age and sex of the patient if mentioned, help the pharmacist to check the prescribed dose of the medication.

3. Superscription

Represented by ℞, written on the left side of prescription for pray to god for fast healing. This is an abbreviation of the Latin term recipe, meaning ‘you take’ (take thou).

4. Inscription

Known as the main part of the prescription, contains ingredients of the formulation and their quantity, Latin terms must be read carefully.

5. Subscription

Consist of directions for the pharmacist to prepare and dispense the medication.

6. Signatura

Consist of direction for the patient regarding the administration of the medication. The instructions include as-
  • The quantity to be taken (frequency of dose).
  • Timing of dose administration.
  • The route of administration.
  • Special instruction such as dilution, shaking, warming, etc.

7. Renewal instructions

The number of times a prescription prescribed by the physician be repeated is prescribed by the physician under refill information. Important in case of narcotics and habit forming drugs.

8. Name and signature, address and registration number of the prescriber

Finally, the prescription must bear the signature of the prescriber. Important in case of narcotics and habit-forming drugs, to prevent its misuse.

Handling of prescription

(Dispensing Procedure and Compounding Operations)

1. Receiving

A prescription should always be received by a pharmacist himself to minimize the error of missing or mishandling.

2. Reading and checking the prescription

The prescription should always be read and checked by pharmacists cautiously. If any doubt regarding prescription ingredients or directions, the pharmacist should consult with other pharmacists or the prescriber.

3. Collecting and weighing the material

The required material collected a side of balance than weigh and transfer another side of the balance to minimize the error of mixing or missing ingredients.

4. Compounding, labeling, and packaging

These processes should be carried in a neat place. Only one prescription should be compound at one time. All ingredients should be compounded according to the directions provided by the prescriber or according to pharmaceutical reference. The compounded medicaments should be filled in suitable containers depending on their quantity and use. The filled containers are suitably labeled. The label should be read a minimum of 3 times. While delivering the prescription to the patient, the pharmacist should explain the direction for use, mode of administration, and storage.

Sources of errors in prescription

  • Abbreviation
  • Name of the drug
  • Strength of the preparation
  • The dosage form of the drug prescribed
  • Dose
  • Instruction for the patient
  • Incompatibilities
Also, Read - Basic Pharmacology