How to write a prescription

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How to write a prescription
Learn to write prescriptions (Prescription medicine image by MAXFX from

Although writing prescriptions will become second nature, there are many reasons to use caution when preparing them. As a health care professional, it is your responsibility to provide compassionate and accurate care. Learning to write prescriptions properly will make it easier for patients to receive their medications quickly and safely.

Skill level:

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  1. 1

    Ensure you are qualified to write the prescription. Be sure to follow all federal and local prescribing guidelines. For example, your license should be current before attempting to write a prescription to avoid fines or other consequences.

  2. 2

    Assess the client's present condition and medical history. Use all available information to help you form a plan of action. For example, you may find relevant information while reviewing the patient's chart from a visit that occurred six months ago.

  3. 3

    Check the patient's current medication list. Understand that the patient may be seen by several physicians and prescribing personnel. Study the medication list to help avoid drug interactions and complications. Ask the patient to update his list with new prescriptions in a timely manner.

  4. 4

    Determine which medicine you would like to prescribe. Choose the medicine that will best provide your desired treatment action. Take all aspects of the patient's health and capacity into consideration when making your decision.

  5. 5

    Calculate the desired dosage and additional instructions. Determine the form and amount of medication you would like the patient to receive. Use reference tools such as "The Physician's Desk Reference" as well as past experience to help you make the best possible decision. Include information regarding the length of time the medication is to be taken and the amount of available refills.

  6. 6

    Use an approved prescription pad. Know that certain medications, like narcotics, may need to be written on special medication pads. Include all necessary information so that the prescription will be considered valid by the pharmacy. For example, forgetting to write the patient's name or medication dosage will make the prescription invalid and cause delays.

Tips and warnings

  • Make sure the prescription you write is legible to avoid pharmacy validation calls.
  • Never forget to include your signature on a prescription.

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