A medical prescription is an order (often in written form) issued by a qualified health care professional (e.g. physician and dentist) to a pharmacist or other therapist for a treatment (medicine or device) to be provided to their patient.
There are two broad legal classifications of medications:
• The medications which can be obtained only by prescription which are referred as prescription drugs or legend drugs.
• The medications which may be purchased without a prescription, which are
termed non prescription drugs or over-the-counter (OTC).
COMPONENTS OF PRESCRIPTIONS
Generally, a prescription consists of the following parts (see the sample prescription in Figure 3.1).
(1) Prescriber’s name, degree, address and telephone number. In the case of prescriptions coming from a hospital or a multicenter clinic, the hospital or clinic’s name, address and telephone numbers appear at the top. In such a case, the physician’s name and degree would appear near his/her signature.
(2) Patient’s name, address, age, and the date of prescription.
(3) The Superscription, which is represented by the Latin sign. This sign represents ‘‘take thou’’ or ‘‘you take’’ or ‘‘recipe.’’ Sometimes, this sign is also used to denote the pharmacy itself.
(4) The Inscription is the general content of the prescription. It states the name and strength of the medication, either as its brand (proprietary) or generic (nonproprietary) name. In the case of compounded prescriptions, the inscription states the name and strength of active ingredients.
(5) The Subscription represents the directions to the dispenser and indicates the type of dosage form or the number of dosage units. For compounded prescriptions, the subscription is written using English or Latin abbreviations. A few examples are provided as follows:
– M. et ft. sol. Disp vi (Mix and make solution. Dispense six)
– Ft. ung. Disp ii (Make ointment and dispense two)
– Ft. cap. DTD xii (Make capsules and let twelve such doses be given)
(6) The Signa, also known as transcription represents the directions to the patient.
These directions are written in English or Latin or a combination of both. Latin directions in prescriptions are declining, but since they are still used, it is important to learn them. A few examples are present:
– ii caps bid, 7 days (Take two capsules twice daily for seven days)
– gtt. iii a.u. hs (Instill three drops in both the ears at bedtime)
– In rect. prn pain (Insert rectally as needed for pain)
(7) The prescriber’s signature.
(8) The refill directions, in which the information about how many times, if authorized, a prescription can be refilled is provided.
(9) Other information, such as ‘‘Dispense as Written.’’
Types of prescription
1- Simple prescription: Those written for a single component or prefabricated product and not requiring compounding or admixture by the pharmacist.
2- Compound or complex prescription: Those written for more than a single component and requiring compounding.
3- e-prescriptions (electronic prescription): The use of electronic means for the generation and transmission of prescriptions is used and accepted in some countries.
4- In-patient prescription: a medication order form used in the hospital setting. In addition, other forms may be used within a hospital by specialized units such as infectious disease, cardiac care, pediatrics, and others.
Drug-specific forms also may be used, as for heparin dosing, electrolyte infusions, and morphine sulfate in patient-controlled anesthesia.
5- Narcotic prescription: contains a narcotic substance or other habit forming drugs. It must contain in addition to the contents of the simple prescription, the address of the patient, the narcotic registry number of the prescriber. Such prescription should be written by ink or typewriter. The quantities of the narcotic substance must be written in words and numbers.