Quantities, frequencies and timing important in prescription writing

Information about the number of days a medicine should be taken for, total quantities of medicines and clear and accurate instructions about their frequencies and timing, were often omitted by nurse prescribers writing prescriptions for people with diabetes in general practice, in this small study. In general, the nurse prescribers did comply with good practice in their prescription writing, and used computer-based repeat prescribing systems to generate prescriptions for the management of diabetes and its common complications.

The prescriptions were issued on the appropriate form, written in ink legibly, using correct terminology, generic prescribing and with accurate/appropriate product, dose and preparation.

The authors point out that most of the prescriptions were for ongoing medications, which may help to explain the omissions, and also that nurses may be prescribing according to local custom and practice. However, nurse prescribers should not make assumptions about what patients remember and understand from the information they have been given, and such omissions may contribute to non-adherence: it is therefore important that every effort is made to ensure that all prescriptions include these vital pieces of information.

Prescriptions issued for 19 patients including 47 medicines were examined from four case study sites.

Carey N, Stenner K and Courtenay M. Prescription writing for diabetes: compliance with good practice. Nurse Prescribing 2009; 7(10): 464-468.