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A medical prescription () is an order (often in written form) by a qualified health care professional to a pharmacist or other therapist for a treatment to be provided to their patient. A prescription is a legal document which not only instructs in the preparation and provision of the medicine or device but indicates the prescriber takes responsibility for the clinical care of the patient and the outcomes that may or may not be achieved.

Format and definitionEdit

Rx symbol

Prescription symbol

Prescriptions are typically handwritten on preprinted prescription forms that are assembled into pads, or alternatively printed onto similar forms using a computer printer. Preprinted on the form is text that identifies the document as a prescription, the name and address of the prescribing provider and any other legal requirement such as a registration number (e.g. DEA Number in the United States). Unique for each prescription is the name of the patient. In the United Kingdom the patient's name and address must also be recorded. Each prescription is dated and some jurisdictions may place a time limit on the prescription[1]. There is the specific "recipe" of the medication and the directions for taking it. Finally there is the doctor's signature.

The symbol "Rx" meaning "prescription" is a transliteration of a symbol resembling a capital R with a cross on the diagonal ().

There are various theories about the origin of this symbol - some note its similarity to the Eye of Horus[How to reference and link to summary or text], others to the ancient symbol for Jupiter[How to reference and link to summary or text], both gods whose protection may have been sought in medical contexts. Alternatively, it may be intended as an abbreviation of the Latin "recipe"[How to reference and link to summary or text], the imperative form of "recipere", "to take"[2], and it is quite possible that more than one of these factors influenced its form. Literally, "Recipe" means simply "Take...." and when a doctor writes a prescription beginning with "Rx", he or she is completing the command. This was probably originally directed at the pharmacist who needed to take a certain amount of each ingredient to compound the medicine, rather than at the patient who must "take" the medicine, in the sense of consuming it.

The word "prescription" can be decomposed into "pre" and "script" and literally means, "to write before" a drug can be prepared. Those within the industry will often call prescriptions simply "scripts".

Contents of the prescriptionEdit

Both pharmacists and physicians are regulated professions in most jurisdictions. A prescription as a communications mechanism between them is also regulated and is a legal document. Regulations may define what constitutes a prescription, the contents and format of the prescription (including the size of the piece of paper - see Exhibit C paragraph 10) and how prescriptions are handled and stored by the pharmacist. Many jurisdictions will now allow faxed or phone prescriptions containing the same information. Exhibit A below illustrates the legal definition of a prescription.

ValiumDAWAd

Drug companies use direct-to-physician advertising in an effort to convince doctors to dispense as written with brand-name products rather than generic drugs.

Many brand name drugs have less expensive generic drug substitutes that are chemically equivalent. Prescriptions will also contain instructions on whether the prescriber will allow the pharmacist to substitute a generic version of the drug. This instruction is communicated in a number of ways. In some jurisdictions, the preprinted prescription contains two signature lines: one line has "dispense as written" printed underneath; the other line has "substitution permitted" underneath. Some have a preprinted box "dispense as written" for the prescriber to check off (but this is easily checked off by anyone with access to the prescription). Other jurisdictions the protocol is for the prescriber to handwrite one of the following phrases: "dispense as written", "DAW", "brand necessary", "do not substitute", "no substitution", "medically necessary", "do not interchange"[3].

As a guideline, pediatric prescriptions should include the age of the child if the patient is less than twelve and the age and months if less than five. (In general, including the age on the prescription is helpful.) In some jurisdictions, it may be a legal requirement to include the age of child on the prescription [4]. Adding the weight of the child is also helpful.

Prescriptions often have a "label" box [5]. When checked, pharmacist is instructed to label the medication. When not checked, the patient only receives instructions for taking the medication and no information about the prescription itself.

Some prescribers further inform the patient and pharmacist by providing the indicator for the medication; i.e. what is being treated. This assists the pharmacist in checking for errors as many common medications can be used for multiple medical conditions.

Some prescriptions will specify whether and how many "repeats" or "refills" are allowed; that is whether the patient may obtain more of the same medication without getting a new prescription from the doctor. Regulations may restrict some types of drugs from being refilled.

In group practices, the preprinted portion of the prescription may contain multiple prescribers' names. Prescribers typically circle themselves to indicate who is prescribing or there may be a checkbox next to their name.

Handling of the prescriptionEdit

When filled by a pharmacist, as a matter of business practice, the pharmacist may write certain information right on the prescription. This may also be mandated by legislation (see Exhibit D). Information such as the actual manufacturer of the drug and the date the medication was dispensed may be written right onto the prescription. Legislation may require the pharmacist sign the prescription. In computerized pharmacies, all such information is printed and stapled to the prescription. Sometimes such information is printed onto labels and the labels affixed right onto the prescription.

When filled by the pharmacist, prescriptions are typically assigned a "prescription number" (often abbreviated "Rx#") that is unique to the pharmacy that filled the prescription. The prescription number is written right on the prescription by the pharmacist. The prescription number has the practical purpose of uniquely identifying the prescription later on while filed (both manual and electronic). The prescription number is also put on the label on the dispensed medication. The patient may be required to reference the prescription number for refills and drug insurance claims. There may also be a legal requirement for prescription numbers for subsequent identification purposes.

As a legal document, some jurisdictions will mandate the archiving of the original paper prescription in the pharmacy. Often the patient cannot take the original prescription with them. Some jurisdictions may entitle patients to a copy. The retention period varies but can be as long as six years. See Exhibit B for sample legislation governing the archiving of prescriptions. Once the retention period has passed, privacy legislation may dictate what can be done with the original paper prescription. Legislation may also dictate what happens to the prescriptions if the pharmacy closes or is sold. For example, if the pharmacy goes out of business, the pharmacist may be required to return the prescription to the patient, to the next closest pharmacy or to the governing body for pharmacists.

Prescriptions for non-narcotic drugs may also be "transferred" from one pharmacy to another for subsequent repeats to be dispensed from another pharmacy. The physical piece of paper that is the prescription is not transferred, but all the information on it is transferred from one pharmacy to another. Legislation may dictate the protocol by which the transfer occurs and whether the transfer needs to be noted on the original paper prescription.

It is estimated that 3 billion (3 thousand million) prescriptions were written in the United States in 2002[6][7]. This number has grown from 1.5 billion in 1989 and is expected to continue to grow.

Forgeries, thefts and preventionEdit

Prescriptions are sometimes forged because many narcotics are cheaper and safer as prescription drugs than as street drugs. Forgery takes many forms: Doctor's prescription pads are sometimes stolen, amounts may be altered on legitimate prescriptions, call back numbers may be falsified and phoned or faxed prescriptions faked[8].

Some doctors will use prescription pads that contain similar security measures as checks to make photocopying prescriptions harder. These security measures may be mandated by law—see Exhibit C for sample legal specifications. Legislation may mandate that only certain printers may print prescriptions[9]. New Jersey, for example, requires that only state approved printers may be used to print official "New Jersey Prescription Blanks."[10] (See Exhibit E.) Prescribers can make it harder for amount forgeries by writing out the amounts in words. Again, this may be mandated by law[11].

Some jurisdictions help control stolen prescriptions by requiring special "triplicate prescriptions" for certain classes of drugs [12]. Blank triplicates are only available from the regulating agency and are individually numbered. The doctor retains a copy, the second and third copies are given to the patient to give to the pharmacist. The pharmacist retains the second copy and the third copy is submitted to the regulating agency. The regulating agency can issue lists of stolen prescriptions that pharmacists can check. In this example, the prescription's validity is further limited to 72 hours from issuance. This system also has the further benefit of managing "double doctoring" where patients visit multiple doctors to get prescriptions.

States have various laws making theft of prescription blanks or forgery of prescriptions criminal offenses and/or providing special treatment for these offenses (for Example N.J. Stat. 2C:21-1. making forgery of a prescription blank a third degree rather than fourth degree offense).[13]

When forgery is suspected, pharmacists will call the doctor to verify the prescription and will attempt to detain the suspect pending arrival of authorities. Forged prescriptions are no longer considered medical documents and doctor-patient confidentiality rules no longer apply.

Writing prescriptionsEdit

Who can write prescriptionsEdit

Who can issue prescriptions is governed by local legislation. In the United States, allopathic physicians, osteopathic physicians, veterinarians, dentists, and podiatrists have full prescribing power. In all states, optometrists prescribe medications to treat certain eye diseases, and also issue spectacle and contact lens prescriptions for corrective eyewear. [14] States allow mid-level practitioners different prescription privileges. Physician assistants (also known as physician associates or PAs), nurse practitioners (also known as advance practice nurses or NPs), and some registered pharmacists currently represent the spectrum of mid-level practitioners. Each state regulates what (if any) prescription powers members of the above group are allowed. Advance practice nurses and physician assistants have some form of prescriptive authority in all 50 states. But registered pharmacists, for example, have limited prescriptive authority in only 6 states.[15]. Several states have passed RxP legislation, allowing clinical psychologists (PhD's or PsyD's) who have also undergone specialized training in script-writing to prescribe a limited number of drugs to treat emotional and mental disorders.

Legibility of prescriptionsEdit

Prescriptions, when handwritten, are notorious for being often illegible (5% according to an Irish study [16]). Contrary to popular belief, pharmacists do not have special deciphering skills. When in doubt, they call the doctor. At other times, even though some of the individual letters are illegible, the position of the legible letters and length of the word is sufficient to distinguish the medication based on the knowledge of the pharmacist. For doctors that the pharmacist deals with regularly, they learn to read the doctor's handwriting. Patients are advised to ensure that the prescription is legible before leaving the doctor's office. Some jurisdictions have made legible prescriptions a law (e.g. Florida[17]). Some have advocated the elimination of handwritten prescriptions altogether [18] and computer printed prescriptions are becoming increasingly common in some places.

Writing good prescriptionsEdit

Independent of the actual prescribing decision, elements of a good prescription writing include: [19] [20] [21]

  • careful use of decimal points to avoid ambiguity:
    • avoid unnecessary decimal points: 5 mL instead of 5.0 mL to avoid possible misinterpretation of 5.0=50
    • always zero prefix decimals: e.g. 0.5 instead of .5 to avoid misinterpretation with .5=5
    • never have trailing zeros on decimals: e.g. use 0.5 instead of .50 to avoid misinterpretation with .50=50
    • avoid decimals altogether by changing the units: 0.5 g =500 mg
  • "mL" is used instead of "cc" or "cm³" even though they are technically equivalent
  • directions should be written out in full in English although some common Latin abbreviations are listed below
  • quantities can be given directly or implied by the frequency and duration of the directions
  • where the directions are "as needed" the quantity should always be specified
  • where possible, usage directions should specify times (7 am, 3 pm, 11 pm) rather than simply frequency (3 times a day) and especially relationship to meals for orally consumed medication
  • use permanent ink
  • avoid unspecified prn or "as needed" instructions—limits and indicators should be provided e.g. "every 3 hours prn pain"
  • for refills, minimum duration between repeats and number of repeats should be specified
  • provide the indication for all prescriptions even when obvious to the prescriber so that the pharmacist may identify possible errors
  • avoid non-standardized units such as "teaspoons" or "tablespoons"
  • write out numbers as words and numerals ("dispense #30 (thirty)") as in a bank draft or cheque

AbbreviationsEdit

See Appendix 1 for a complete list of common abbreviations found on prescriptions. Many abbreviations are derived from Latin phrases. Hospital pharmacies have more abbreviations, some specific to the hospital. Different jurisdictions follow different conventions on what is abbreviated or not. Prescriptions that don't follow area conventions may be flagged as possible forgeries.

Some abbreviations which are ambiguous, or which in their written form might be confused with something else, are not recommended and should be avoided. These are included in a separate list in Appendix 1. However, all abbreviations carry an increased risk for confusion and misinterpretation and should be used cautiously.

Non prescription drug prescriptionsEdit

Prescriptions are also used for things that are not strictly regulated as a prescription drug. Prescribers will often give non-prescription drugs out as prescriptions because drug benefit plans may reimburse the patient only if the over-the-counter medication is taken under the direction of a doctor. Conversely, if a medication is available over-the-counter, doctors may ask patients if they want it as a prescription and possibly incur a pharmacist's dispensing fee or whether they want to get it themselves at a lower price. If the patient wants the medication not under prescription, the prescriber is usually careful to give the medication name to the patient on a blank piece of paper to avoid any confusion with a prescription. This is applied to non-medications as well. For example, crutches, and registered massage therapy may be reimbursed under some health plans, but only if given out by a prescriber as a prescription.

Prescribers will often use blank prescriptions as general letterhead. A "doctor's note" for absent days from school or work for minor illnesses will often be written on a blank prescription.

Legislation may define certain equipment as "prescription devices"[22]. Such prescription devices can only be used under the supervision of authorized personnel and such authorization is typically documented using a prescription. Examples of prescription devices include dental cement (for affixing braces to tooth surfaces), various prothesis, gut sutures, sickle cell tests, cervical cap and ultrasound monitor.

In some jurisdictions, hypodermic syringes are in a special class of their own, regulated as illicit drug use accessories[23] separate from regular medical legislation. Such legislation will often specify a prescription as the means by which one may legally possess syringes.

Related usage of the term prescriptionEdit

Prescription may also be used as a short form for prescription drugs to distinguish from over-the-counter drugs. It may also be used in reference to the entire system of controlling drug distribution (as opposed to illicit drugs). "Prescription" is often used as a metaphor for healthy directions from authority. A "green prescription" is direction from a doctor to a patient for exercise and healthy diet.

HistoryEdit

The concept of prescriptions dates back to the beginning of history. So long as there were medications and a writing system to capture directions for preparation and usage, there were prescriptions [24].

Modern prescriptions are actually "extemporaneous prescriptions" from the Latin (ex tempore) for "at/from time" [25]. "Extemporaneous" means the prescription is written on the spot for a specific patient with a specific ailment. This is distinguished from a non-extemporaneous prescription which is a generic recipe for a general ailment. Modern prescriptions evolved with the separation of the role of the pharmacists from that of the physician [26]. Today the term "extemporaneous prescriptions" is reserved for "compound prescriptions" which requires the pharmacist to mix or "compound" the medication in the pharmacy for the specific needs of the patient.

Predating modern legal definitions of a prescription, a prescription traditionally is composed of four parts: a "superscription", "inscription", "subscription" and "signature"[27].

The superscription section contains the date of the prescription and patient information (name, address, age, etc). The symbol "Rx" separates the superscription from the inscriptions sections. In this arrangement of the prescription, the "Rx" is a symbol for recipe or literally the imperative "take." This is an exhortation to the pharmacist by the doctor, "I want the patient to have the following medication"[28] - in other words, "take the following components and compound this medication for the patient."

The inscription section defines what is the medication. The inscription section is further composed of one or more of[29]:

  • a "basis" or chief ingredient indended to cure (curare)
  • an "adjuvant" to assist its action and make it cure quickly (cito)
  • a "corrective" to prevent or lessen any undesirable effect (tuto)
  • a "vehicle" or "excipient" to make it suitable for administration and pleasant to the patient (jucunde)

The "subscription" section contains dispensing directions to the pharmacist. This may be compounding instructions or quantities.

The "signature" section contains directions to the patient[30] and is often abbreviated "Sig."[31] or "Signa." It also obviously contains the signature of the prescribing doctor though the word "signature" has two distinct meanings here and the abbreviations are sometimes used to avoid confusion.

Thus sample prescriptions in modern textbooks are often presented as:

Rx:  medication
Disp.:  dispensing instructions
Sig.: patient instructions

Future directions of prescriptionsEdit

As a prescription is nothing more than information among a prescriber, pharmacist and patient, information technology can be applied to it. Existing information technology is adequate to print out prescriptions. Medical information systems in some hospitals do away with prescriptions within the hospital. There are proposals to securely transmit the prescription from the doctor to the pharmacist using smartcards and the internet[32]. In the UK a project called the Electronic Transfer of Prescriptions (ETP) within the National Programme for IT (NPfIT) is currently piloting such a scheme between doctors and pharmacies.

Within computerized pharmacies, the information on the piece of paper that is the prescription is captured immediately. Thereafter, the prescription is simply an entry within the pharmacy's information system and the paper prescription is stored for legal reasons only.

In cases where a pharmacy is part of a chain of pharmacies, the pharmacies are often linked together through their corporate headquarters with computer technology. Walgreens, for example, uses satellite technology to share patient information. A person who has a prescription filled at one Walgreens can get a refill of that prescription at any other store in the chain, as well as have their information available for new prescriptions at any Walgreens.

Some online pharmacies also offer services to customers over the internet. Walgreens' web site, for example, allows customers to order refills for medicine over the internet, and allows them to specify the store that they will pick up the medicine from. Their web site also allows consumers to lookup their prescription history, and to print it out.

Many pharmacies now offer services to ship prescription refills right to the patient's home. CVS, for example, will ship refills free of charge. They also offer mail service where you can mail in a new, original prescription and a signed document, and they will ship the filled prescription back to you.

Pharmacy information systems are a potential source of valuable information for pharmaceutical companies as it contains information about doctor's prescribing habits. Prescription data mining of such data is a developing, specialized field[33].

Although computerized information systems offer attractive improvements to paper-based prescriptions, they are not yet available in many prescribers' practices. To reduce prescribing errors, some investigators have developed modified prescription forms that prompt the prescriber to provide all the desired elements of a good prescription. The modified forms also contain pre-defined choices such as common quantities, units and frequencies that the prescriber may circle rather than write out. Such forms are thought to reduce errors (especially omission and handwriting errors) and are actively under evaluation. (See: Kennedy AG, Littenberg B. A Modified Outpatient Prescription Form to Reduce Prescription Errors. Joint Commission Journal of Quality and Safety 2004; 30:480-487.)


Appendix 1: Partial list of abbreviationsEdit

This appendix is a list of some abbreviations used in prescriptions. Its listing here does not mean such abbreviations should be used. See main article for discussion on the use of abbreviations. This listing does not include abbreviations for actual pharmaceuticals (which is a separate article in itself). Capitalization and the use of a period is a matter of style. In the attached list, Latin is not capitalized whereas English acronyms are. The period is used wherever there are letters omitted in the abbreviation.

Partial list of prescription abbreviations
Abbreviation Latin Meaning
aa ana of each
ad ad up to
a.c. ante cibum before meals
a.d. aurio dextra right ear
ad lib. ad libitum use as much as one desires; freely
admov. admove apply
agit agita stir/shake
alt. h. alternis horis every other hour
a.m. ante meridiem morning, before noon
amp   ampule
amt   amount
aq aqua water
a.l., a.s. aurio laeva, aurio sinister left ear
A.T.C.   around the clock
a.u. auris utrae both ears
bis bis twice
b.i.d. bis in die twice daily
B.M.   bowel movement
bol. bolus as a large single dose (usually intravenously)
B.S.   blood sugar
B.S.A   body surface areas
cap., caps. capsula capsule
c cum with (usually written with a bar on top of the "c")
c cibos food
cc cum cibos with food, (but also cubic centimetre)
cf   with food
comp.   compound
cr., crm   cream
D5W   dextrose 5% solution (sometimes written as D5W)
D5NS   dextrose 5% in normal saline (0.9%)
D.A.W.   dispense as written
dc, D/C, disc   discontinue
dieb. alt. diebus alternis every other day
dil.   dilute
disp.   dispense
div.   divide
d.t.d. dentur tales doses give of such doses
D.W.   distilled water
elix.   elixir
e.m.p. ex modo prescripto as directed
emuls. emulsum emulsion
et et and
ex aq ex aqua in water
fl., fld.   fluid
ft. fiat make; let it be made
g   gram
gr   grain
gtt(s) gutta(e) drop(s)
H   hypodermic
h, hr hora hour
h.s. hora somni at bedtime
ID   intradermal
IM   intramuscular (with respect to injections)
inj. injectio injection
IP   intraperitoneal
IV   intravenous
IVP   intravenous push
IVPB   intravenous piggyback
L.A.S.   label as such
LCD   coal tar solution
lin linimentum liniment
liq liquor solution
lot.   lotion
M. misce mix
m, min minimum a minimum
mcg   microgram
mEq   milliequivalent
mg   milligram
mist. mistura mix
mitte mitte send
mL   millilitre
nebul nebula a spray
N.M.T.   not more than
noct. nocte at night
non rep. non repetatur no repeats
NS   normal saline (0.9%)
1/2NS   half normal saline (0.45%)
N.T.E.   not to exceed
o_2   both eyes, sometimes written as o2
o.d. oculus dexter right eye
o.s. oculus sinister left eye
o.u. oculus uterque both eyes
oz   ounce
per per by or through
p.c. post cibum after meals
p.m. post meridiem evening or afternoon
prn pro re nata as needed
p.o. per os by mouth or orally
p.r.   by rectum
pulv. pulvis powder
q quaque every
q.a.d. quoque alternis die every other day
q.a.m. quaque die ante meridiem every day before noon
q.h. quaque hora every hour
q.h.s. quaque hora somni every night at bedtime
q.1h quaque 1 hora every 1 hour; (can replace "1" with other numbers)
q.d. quaque die every day
q.i.d. quater in die four times a day
q.o.d.   every other day
qqh quater quaque hora every four hours
q.s. quantum sufficiat a sufficient quantity
R   rectal
rep., rept. repetatur repeats
RL, R/L   Ringer's lactate
s sine without (usually written with a bar on top of the "s")
s.a. secundum artum use your judgement
SC, subc, subq, subcut   subcutaneous
sig   write on label
SL   sublingually, under the tongue
sol solutio solution
s.o.s., si op. sit si opus sit if there is a need
ss semis one half
stat statim immediately
supp suppositorium suppository
susp   suspension
syr syrupus syrup
tab tabella tablet
tal., t talus such
tbsp   tablespoon
troche trochiscus lozenge
tsp   teaspoon
t.i.d. ter in die three times a day
t.d.s. ter die sumendum three times a day
t.i.w.   three times a week
top.   topical
T.P.N.   total parenteral nutrition
tr, tinc., tinct.   tincture
u.d., ut. dict. ut dictum as directed
ung. unguentum ointment
U.S.P.   United States Pharmacopoeia
vag   vaginally
w   with
w/o   without
X   times
Y.O.   years old

To avoid ambiguity, the following abbreviations are not recommended [34]:

  • a.u., a.s., a.d. - Latin for both, left and right ears; the "a" can be misread to be an "o" and interpreted to mean both, right or left eyes
  • d/c - can mean "discontinue" or "discharge"
  • h.s. - can mean half strength or "hour of sleep"
  • q.d. - meant "every day" but the "." after the "q" is interpreted to be an "i" thus "q.i.d." or quadrupling the dose to 4 times a day
  • q.o.d. - meant "every other day" but the "o" can be interpreted as "." or "i" resulting in double or eight times the frequency
  • SC/SQ - meant "subcutaneaous" but mistaken for "SL" for "sublingual"
  • T.I.W - meant 3 times a week but mistaken for twice a week
  • U - meant "units" but mistaken for "0", "4" or "cc" when poorly written; conversely cc can be mistaken for "U"
  • μg - meant "microgram" but mistaken for "mg"; this 1000-fold error can cause potentially fatal misunderstandings
"℞" redirects here. For the band named ℞, see Rx (band).
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Exhibit A: sample legal definition of a prescriptionEdit

Taken from California's Business and Professions Code Section 4040 [35]:

4040. (a) "Prescription" means an oral, written, or electronic transmission order that is both of the following:
(1) Given individually for the person or persons for whom ordered that includes all of the following:
(A) The name or names and address of the patient or patients.
(B) The name and quantity of the drug or device prescribed and the directions for use.
(C) The date of issue.
(D) Either rubber stamped, typed, or printed by hand or typeset, the name, address, and telephone number of the prescriber, his or her license classification, and his or her federal registry number, if a controlled substance is prescribed.
(E) A legible, clear notice of the condition for which the drug is being prescribed, if requested by the patient or patients.
(F) If in writing, signed by the prescriber issuing the order, or the certified nurse-midwife, nurse practitioner, or physician assistant who issues a drug order pursuant to Section 2746.51,2836.1, or 3502.1.
(2) Issued by a physician, dentist, optometrist, podiatrist, or veterinarian or, if a drug order is issued pursuant to Section 2746.51, 2836.1, or 3502.1, by a certified nurse-midwife, nurse practitioner, or physician assistant licensed in this state.
(b) Notwithstanding subdivision (a), a written order of the prescriber for a dangerous drug, except for any Schedule II controlled substance, that contains at least the name and signature of the prescriber, the name and address of the patient in a manner consistent with paragraph (3) of subdivision (b) of Section 11164 of the Health and Safety Code, the name and quantity of the drug prescribed, directions for use, and the date of issue may be treated as a prescription by the dispensing pharmacist as long as any additional information required by subdivision (a) is readily retrievable in the pharmacy. In the event of a conflict between this subdivision and Section 11164 of the Health and Safety Code, Section 11164 of the Health and Safety Code shall prevail.
(c) "Electronic transmission prescription" includes both image and data prescriptions. "Electronic image transmission prescription" means any prescription order for which a facsimile of the order is received by a pharmacy from a licensed prescriber. "Electronic data transmission prescription" means any prescription order, other than an electronic image transmission prescription, that is electronically transmitted from a licensed prescriber to a pharmacy.
(d) The use of commonly used abbreviations shall not invalidate an otherwise valid prescription.
(e) Nothing in the amendments made to this section (formerly Section 4036) at the 1969 Regular Session of the Legislature shall be construed as expanding or limiting the right that a chiropractor, while acting within the scope of his or her license, may have to prescribe a device.

Exhibit B: sample legal requirement for storage of prescriptionsEdit

From the Mississippi Board of Pharmacy [36]:

ARTICLE XIII PRESCRIPTIONS TO BE FILED
1. All prescriptions shall be filed in one of the following ways:
A. Three separate files may be maintained; a file for Schedule II prescriptions dispensed; a file for Schedule III, IV and V prescriptions dispensed; and a file for all other prescriptions dispensed.
B. Two files may be maintained; a file for all Schedule II prescriptions dispensed and another file for all other prescriptions dispensed, including those in Schedule III, IV and V. If this method is used, the prescriptions for Schedule III, IV and V substances must be stamped with the letter "C" in red ink, not less than one inch high, in the lower right-hand corner. This distinctive marking makes the records readily retrievable for inspection. Pharmacies with automatic data processing systems are exempted from marking Schedule III, IV and V controlled substance prescriptions with the red "C".
2. A hard copy of original prescriptions, whether records are maintained manually or in a data processing system, shall be assigned a serial number and maintained by the pharmacy in numerical and chronological order. All prescriptions shall be maintained for at least five years from the date of original dispensing.
3. If a pharmacy utilizes a data processing system for record keeping, all computer generated labels should be affixed to the prescription document in such a manner as not to obscure information on the face of the document.

Exhibit C: sample legal requirements for security and formatEdit

From Indiana Board of Pharmacy [37]:

856 IAC 1-34-2 Security feature requirements
Authority: IC 35-48-7-8
Affected: IC 16-42-19-5
Sec. 2. (a) All controlled substance prescriptions written by licensed Indiana practitioners, as defined by IC 16-42-19-5, must contain the following security features:


(1) A latent, repetitive "void" pattern screened at five percent (5%) in reflex blue must appear across the entire face of the document when the prescription is photocopied.
(2) There shall be a custom artificial watermark printed on the back side of the base paper so that it may only be seen at a forty-five (45) degree angle. The watermark shall consist of the words "Indiana Security Prescription", appearing horizontally in a step-and-repeated format in five (5) lines on the back of the document using 12-point Helvetica bold type style.
(3) An opaque RX symbol must appear in the upper right-hand corner, one-eighth (c) of an inch from the top of the pad and five-sixteenths ( 5 /16) of an inch from the right side of the pad. The symbol must be three-fourths (3/4) inch in size and must disappear if the prescription copy is lightened.
(4) Six (6) quantity check-off boxes must be printed on the form and the following quantities must appear and the appropriate box be checked off for the prescription to be valid:


(A) 1-24
(B) 25-49
(C) 50-74
(D) 75-100
(E) 101-150
(F) 151 and over.
(5) No advertisements may appear on the front or back of the prescription blank.
(6) Logos, defined as a symbol utilized by an individual, professional practice, professional association, or hospital, may appear on the prescription blank. The upper left one (1) inch square of the prescription blank is reserved for the purpose of logos. Only logos, as defined by this subdivision, may appear on the prescription blank.
(7) Only one (1) prescription may be written per prescription blank. The following statement must be printed on the bottom of the pad: "Prescription is void if more than one (1) prescription is written per blank.".
(8) Refill options that can be circled by the prescriber must appear below any logos and above the signature lines on the left side of the prescription blank in the following order: Refill NR 1 2 3 4 5 Void after_____.
(9) Practitioner name and state issued professional license number must be preprinted, stamped, or manually printed on the prescription.
(10) All prescription blanks printed under this rule shall be four and one-fourth (4-1/4) inches high and five and one-half (5-1/2) inches wide.
(b) Nothing in this rule shall prevent licensed Indiana practitioners from utilizing security paper prescriptions for the prescribing of any legend drug. (Indiana Board of Pharmacy; 856 IAC 1-34-2; filed Jul 5, 1995, 9:45 a.m.: 18 IR 2782, eff Jan 1, 1996)

Exhibit D: sample requirements on information added by the pharmacistEdit

Taken from the Ontario's Drug and Pharmacies Regulation Act [38], paragraph 156.

(1) Every person who dispenses a drug pursuant to a prescription shall ensure that the following information is recorded on the prescription,
(a) the name and address of the person for whom the drug is prescribed;
(b) the name, strength (where applicable) and quantity of the prescribed drug;
(c) the directions for use, as prescribed;
(d) the name and address of the prescriber;
(e) the identity of the manufacturer of the drug dispensed;
(f) an identification number or other designation;
(g) the signature of the person dispensing the drug and, where different, also the signature of the person receiving a verbal prescription;
(h) the date on which the drug is dispensed;
(i) the price charged. R.S.O. 1990, c. H.4, s. 156 (1).

Exhibit E: New Jersey requirements for prescription blanksEdit

From New Jersey official statutes:[39]

45:14-55 Use of New Jersey Prescription Blanks.
16. a. A practitioner practicing in this State shall use non-reproducible, non-erasable safety paper New Jersey Prescription Blanks bearing that practitioner's license number whenever the practitioner issues prescriptions for controlled dangerous substances, prescription legend drugs or other prescription items. The prescription blanks shall be secured from a vendor approved by the Division of Consumer Affairs in the Department of Law and Public Safety.
b. A licensed practitioner practicing in this State shall maintain a record of the receipt of New Jersey Prescription Blanks. The practitioner shall notify the Office of Drug Control in the Division of Consumer Affairs as soon as possible but no later than 72 hours of being made aware that any New Jersey Prescription Blank in the practitioner's possession has been stolen. Upon receipt of notification, the Office of Drug Control shall take appropriate action, including notification to the Department of Human Services and the Attorney General.
45:14-56 Health care facility prescriptions.
17. a. Prescriptions issued by a health care facility licensed pursuant to P.L.1971, c.136 (C.26:2H-1 et seq.) shall be written on non-reproducible, non-erasable safety paper New Jersey Prescription Blanks. The prescription blanks shall be secured from a vendor approved by the Division of Consumer Affairs in the Department of Law and Public Safety. The New Jersey Prescription Blanks shall bear the unique provider number assigned to that health care facility for the issuing of prescriptions for controlled dangerous substances, prescription legend drugs or other prescription items.
b. A health care facility shall maintain a record of the receipt of New Jersey Prescription Blanks. The health care facility shall notify the Office of Drug Control in the Division of Consumer Affairs as soon as possible but no later than 72 hours of being made aware that any New Jersey Prescription Blank in the facility's possession has been stolen. Upon receipt of notification, the Office of Drug Control shall take appropriate action including notification to the Department of Human Services and the Attorney General.
45:14-57 Requirements for prescription to be filled.
18.A prescription issued by a practitioner or health care facility licensed in New Jersey shall not be filled by a pharmacist unless the prescription is issued on a New Jersey Prescription Blank bearing the practitioner's license number or the unique provider number assigned to a health care facility.
45:14-59 Format for New Jersey Prescription Blanks.
20.The Division of Consumer Affairs in the Department of Law and Public Safety shall establish the format for uniform, non-reproducible, non-erasable safety paper prescription blanks, to be known as New Jersey Prescription Blanks, which format shall include an identifiable logo or symbol that will appear on all prescription blanks. The division shall approve a sufficient number of vendors to ensure production of an adequate supply of New Jersey Prescription Blanks for practitioners and health care facilities statewide.

See alsoEdit

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