The United States Department of Health and Human Services reports that approximately one third of rug abuse involves prescription drugs. With this in mind, doctors must exercise extreme care when writing prescriptions for their patients. There are certain rules and regulations doctors follow to help reduce the chances that patients will abuse their medications.
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Prescription Pad Formats
Doctors can legally write prescriptions only on pads that meet specific criteria. Most prescription pads are equipped with security measures that make it extremely difficult to forge copies. The pad itself must have a prescription logo printed on it which includes the letters “Rx.” The letters “Rx” indicate the paper is being used for prescription purposes. The pad must also include the prescriber’s name and address, telephone numbers and Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) number.
Writing a Prescription
Doctors using a prescription pad must write legibly. Unfortunately, this does not always happen and, therefore, pharmacists sometimes need to contact the doctor to clarify prescription information.
Doctors must identify the name of the drug, the exact dosage, when it should be taken and the number of times the prescription can be refilled. Doctors are also required to sign the prescription, which turns the prescription into a legal document. Any information missing on a prescription cannot be added until the pharmacy has confirmed the information with the medical provider.
In the United States, prescriptions are governed by state and provincial legislation. Medical Doctors (MDs) and Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine (DOs) are the main prescribers in North America. Depending upon the state, other health care providers may also be permitted to write prescriptions. Nurse practitioners, dentists and veterinarians can also be prescribers, depending upon the state.
Securing the Prescription Pad
Prescription pads must be secured at all times and out of the reach of patients. It is recommended that prescibers keep their pads on their persons at all times, rather than on their desks. This can reduce the number of prescription pads stolen and used illegally. After hours, prescription pads must be locked in a drawer or cabinet.
Alternatives to Prescription Pads
With the increasing incidence of prescription drug abuse in the United States, prescribers are beginning to write prescriptions in different ways. Medical providers can prescribe medications by fax, electronic communication or telephone. These methods help decrease prescription pad abuse, while keeping patients' medical information more private.
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