In some cases, there will be additional instructions to the pharmacist. They may need to compound or reconstitute certain medications before giving it to you.
This part of the prescription is important for you as a patient. The signa is where the doctor places instructions the patient needs to follow. An example of this would be, “Take one tablet once a day before bedtime”.
Although the use of Roman numerals and Latin abbreviations is common in medical practice, it should be avoided. If your prescription has these, ask your doctor or pharmacist to clarify. To prevent errors, abbreviations should not be used. How to read prescription medical abbreviations:
- o.d. = once daily or one time a day
- b.i.d, bid, or BID = twice daily or two times a day
- t.i.d., tid, or TID = thrice daily or three times a day
- OU, OS, OD = both eyes, left eye, right eye (respectively)
- AU, AS, AD = both ears, left ear, right ear (respectively)
- gtts = drops
- mL = milliliters
- mg = milligrams
- tsp. = teaspoon
- tbsp. = tablespoon
This is the last portion of the prescription. Here, the doctor’s full name, professional tax receipt (PTR) number, and PRC license number should be clearly printed. There should also be a signature of the doctor in order to make the prescription official.
Prescriptions that do not have these cannot be filled by a pharmacist. If your doctor forgot to sign your prescription, you should request for it to be signed.
Additionally, the name, specialty, hospital or clinic name, address, and contact number may be included. A logo is optional. Typically, you can find this information above the superscription.
In most cases, doctors use white prescription pads. If a doctor needs to prescribe a dangerous drug (e.g. zolpidem), it needs to be written on a yellow prescription. In addition to the parts mentioned above, the doctor should also have a S2 license number printed on the prescription.
There are three copies of a yellow prescription. The original copy belongs to the pharmacy that filled your prescription. The patients keeps one of the duplicate carbon copies. The last copy belongs to the doctor who prescribed the drug.
Key takeaways of how to read a prescription
Prescriptions are important documents that doctors write for their patients. To be valid, these must be completely and accurately filled out.
Do not give your prescription to another person unless they have an authorization letter and a valid ID from you. The purpose of a prescription is to give instructions to you and the pharmacist and it is also a legal document for record keeping.
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