Parts of the Prescription

Parts of the Prescription

What is a Prescription? 

A prescription is a legal document or order written by a qualified healthcare professional for the diagnosis, prevention, or treatment of a specific patient's disease.


- Is written by a licensed practitioner 

- Is written as part of a proper physician-patient relationship 

- Is a legal document, "prima facie" evidence in a court of law. 

(Note: A prima-facie case is a lawsuit that alleges facts adequate to prove the  underlying conduct supporting the cause of action and thereby prevails.) 


Literally, "Recipe" means simply "Take...." and when a medical practitioner writes a  prescription beginning with "Rx", he or she is completing the command.


It is 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/consume" it). 

Types of Prescription forms 

1. Private prescription form: This type of prescription is generally written on a form that includes the name, address, and qualification of a prescriber. Rx is written to indicate this is a prescription form. This is issued by private prescribers.


2. National Health Service (NHS) prescription form: It is only issued for NHS  patients i.e. patients suffering from certain diseases and is issued by Government  Prescribers.

Parts of the Prescription 

1. Date 

2. Patient Information 

3. Superscription 

4. Inscription 

5. Subscription 

6. Signa 

7. Signature lines, signature, degree, brand name indication 

8. Prescriber information 

9. DEA (Drug enforcement administration) if required 

10. Refills 

11. Warnings/label 

1. Date

All prescriptions expire after one year. In the case of narcotics and other habit-forming drugs, the date prevents the misuse of the drugs by the patient. It helps a pharmacist to know when the medicine was last dispensed and if the prescription is brought for dispensing.

2. Patient Information 

• Name 

• Address 

• Age 

• Weight (optional, but useful – especially in pediatrics) 

• Time (used only with inpatient medication orders) 

3. Superscription 

Represented by the symbol Rx, a traditional symbol for prescription which is always written before writing a prescription. This is derived from the Latin word 'recipe' which means to take. Instruction was given to the pharmacist as well as the patient to take the medicine as prescribed. Another theory proposed by some scholars is that it derives from the symbol for the god Jupiter. The connection to healing was via prayers that a specific treatment would be effective and the individual would get better. 

4. Inscription 

This is the main body of prescription which includes the name and quantity o medicine which are prescribed. This is written in the English language. All medicines are written in separate lines along with the required quantity needed to treat the disease.


What is the pharmacist to take off the shelf? 

Drug Name 

Dose = Quantity of drug per dose form 

Dose Form = The physical entity needed, i.e. tablet, suspension, capsule 

Simple versus compound prescriptions 

Manufactured versus compounded prescriptions 

Clarity of number forms 0.2, 20 not 2.0 (Zeros lead but do not follow!) 

5. Subscription 

These are instructions given to the pharmacist for dispensing the number of doses to the patient and how the medicine has to be taken before meal or after a meal. 

What is the pharmacist to do with the ingredients? 

Quantity to be dispensed (determines the amount in bottle) Dispense #24.

For controlled substances write in numbers and letters (like a bank cheque)

i.e., 24 (twenty-four)

Any special compounding instructions.

6. Signa, Signatura of Transcription

Siq – write, or let it be labeled (Latin terms: Siqna or signature)

Instructions for the patient

Route of administration

Oral, Nasally, Rectally, etc.

Take by mouth…, Give, Chew, Swallow whole, etc.

Number of dosages units per dose

Taje one tablet, give two teaspoonfuls, etc.

Frequency of dosing

Every six hours, once a day.

Duration of dosing 

for seven days, … until gone,...if needed for pain.

Purpose of medication 

for pain, asthma, headaches, etc. 

VERY IMPORTANT to include purpose as this reduces errors! 

"As directed by a physician"

Special instructions (shake well, refrigerate, etc.)


7. Refills or renewal Instruction 

Indicate either no refills or the number of refills you want (do not leave it blank).  Determines the maximum duration of therapy. 

8. Signature, address, and registration of the Prescriber 

This makes the prescription a legal document. A signature and the prescriber registration number are necessary, especially in the case of habit-forming drugs. A prescriber must write  "brand necessary," "brand medically necessary," or "DAW" (Dispense as Written) to get non-generics.

Parts of the Prescription

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