How to write a Prescription?

Original Author(s): MCQMED Team

What is a prescription?

A prescription is an order written by a healthcare professional, which in this case would be you, informing the pharmacist of what medication you want your patient to take for the health condition in question

The Prescriber

The ‘prescriber’ is physician or any other healthcare professional licensed or otherwise permitted to issue prescriptions for drugs for human use

Parts of a prescription

  1. Prescriber’s identifying information

    • Practitioner’s full name

    • Office address

    • Contact information – office telephone number

  2. Patient identifying information

    • Patient’s full name

    • Age

    • Date of Birth

    • Patient’s Home address

  3. Recipe (Rx)

    • Name of medication

    • Dosage

    • Dose form

    • e.g. 800-milligram tablets of Ibuprofen written as, Ibuprofen 800 mg tablets or tabs.

  4. Signatura (Sig)

    • The ‘signature’ are the instructions on how the medication should be taken

      • How much of the drug to take

      • How to take it

      • How often to take it

      • e.g. if the clinician is prescribing one tablet of 800 mg of Ibuprofen every 8 hours, they would have to write “take one tablet by mouth every 8 hours” or if they use the sig codes they would write “1 tab po q8”.

  5. Dispensing Instructions (Disp)

    • Dispensing instructions informs the pharmacist of how much medication you would like your patient to receive

      • Quantity of medication

      • Form it should be released it

    • Important: quantities should be written very clearly to avoid over or under dispensing medication

    • e.g. With our Ibuprofen example, if the clinician would like to provide a 30-day supply, it’s important to write the number of tablets, which would be 90 tablets if the pill were to be taken 3 times a day, or every 8 hours.

  6. Refill Instructions

    • The exact number of refills the patient is allowed for the medication in questioned needs to be specified very clearly

    • If you are not prescribing any refills, write ‘zero refills’

  7. Date

    • The date of the prescription is important to make sure the patient doesn’t try to refill their medication before the prescribed date

  8. Clinician’s signature

    • Signature

    • NPI number

    • Drug Enforcement Agency Number – for controlled substances only


Common abbreviations used in prescriptions

AbbreviationsLatin TermMeaning
ACante cibum“before meals”
BIDbis in die“twice a day”
s. o. s “as needed”
POper os“by mouth”
manemane“at morning”
noctenocte“at night”
PCpost cibum“after meals”
PRNpro re nata“as needed”
Q3hquaque 3 hora“every three hours”
QDquaque die“every day”
QIDquater in die“four times a day”
TIDter in die“three times a day”
  “twice a day”
QHS “every bedtime”
Q4h “every 4 hours”
Q4-6h “every 4 to 6 hours”
QWK “every week”

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