All about a PRESCRIPTION you need to know!

February 16, 2019

Written by:  Awais Shakeel, College of Pharmacy, University of Sargodha.

Definition of Prescription:

  • A prescription is the written medication order by the doctor, dentist, surgeon, veterinarian or any other registered medical prescriber to the pharmacist, for the supply of a medicine, dressing or surgical appliance to a patient.
  • A prescription order is written for diagnosis, prevention or treatment of a specific patient’s disease. It is written by a licensed practitioner. It is legal document.
  • The word “prescription” can be decomposed into “pre” and “script” and literally means, “to write before” a drug can be prepared.

Parts of prescription:

A prescription should consist of the following seven parts.

  1. Date of the Prescription:

This is necessary for the prevention of misuse of prescription, especially the ones which contain narcotics and controlled drugs. The Pharmacist should advice the patient to visit the doctor again.

  1. The Patient’s Name, Age, Sex and Address:

Patient’s complete name, sex and address should be written to avoid medication error and to take follow ups. For a child the age is also given to help when the pharmacist is checking the dose is one of main parts of prescription.

  • The Superscription:

The superscription consists of the sign ℞, which consists of the letter R with an oblique dash across the final stroke. The letter R is an abbreviation for the Latin word Recipe, meaning you take or take thou; so it instructs the pharmacist to take of the ingredients mentioned below the amounts specified. The oblique dash across the final stroke of the R probably is derived from the old symbol % which represented a prayer to Jupiter (the god of healing). It was the custom of the old Roman physicians to begin a prescription with this invocation (the action of invoking someone) their God of Gods to bless the remedies.

Another theory exists that the “℞” may have originally been a “Px”, where the “P” is short for “pre”, and the “x” is short for “script”.

  1. The Inscription:

It is the main body of the prescription. The inscription is that part which contains the name of the drug or drugs ordered and the amount desired. It is usually best written in Latin.

Some inscriptions may be divided into the following parts:

  1. Basis, or principal ingredient.
  2. Adjuvant-that which aids the action of the principal ingredient.
  3. Corrective-that which modifies some undesirable action of the other ingredients. Vehicle-that which facilitates the dispensing or administration of the other ingredients. This is sometimes called the diluent or solvent and in the case of ointments is often called the base.
  4. The Subscription:

It is instructions for the Pharmacist. It may include instruction regarding the flavor of the product, label, and quantity to be dispensed; i.e. for one week etc.  It is usually written in Latin and almost always abbreviated.

  1. Signatura:

It is directions for the patient. The signatura consists of the directions that are to be copied on the label by the pharmacist for the instruction of the patient or nurse. This may include:

  1. The method of administration and application
  2. The dose if the preparation is for internal dose
  3. The time of administration or application
  4. The part of body where the preparation is to be applied, in case of external use

  • The Prescriber’s Name, Address and signature:

The prescriber’s name, and address should always be so written as to leave no possible doubt as to identity at any time. It is necessary to have the full signature of the physician.