World Patient Safety Day: Ensuring Safer Prescriptions

Ronit Kawale
Ronit Kawale  - Senior Editor
3 Min Read
World Patient Safety Day (Representative image) (Photo credit: Pexels)

Prescriptions play a crucial role in ensuring the safe and effective use of medications, and on World Patient Safety Day, it’s essential to shed light on how healthcare professionals are taking measures to write safer prescriptions. Patients often encounter issues with prescriptions, including misunderstanding dosage instructions, experiencing adverse drug reactions or interactions, facing high medication costs, and encountering pharmacy errors. These problems can compromise treatment effectiveness and patient safety.

Key Precautions for Safer Prescriptions

When healthcare professionals write prescriptions, several key precautions must be taken to safeguard patient health:

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  1. Legible Handwriting: Ensure that the prescription is written in legible handwriting to avoid misinterpretation.
  2. Verify Patient Details: Verify patient details to ensure the prescription reaches the correct individual.
  3. Clear Drug Information: Clearly specify the drug name, dosage form, strength, and quantity to avoid any confusion.
  4. Explicit Dosage Instructions: Provide explicit dosage instructions to guide patients on how to take their medication.
  5. Treatment Duration: Mention the duration of the treatment to prevent overuse or underuse of medications.
  6. Allergy and Drug Interaction Checks: Check for allergies or potential drug interactions to prevent adverse reactions.
  7. Avoid Abbreviations: Avoid using abbreviations or use only standard ones to eliminate misunderstandings.
  8. Review for Accuracy: Before providing the prescription to the patient, review it for accuracy to prevent errors.

Utilizing Technology for Safer Prescriptions

Healthcare professionals are adopting various measures to enhance prescription safety. Dr. Sumitra Agarwal, an Artificial Eye and Prosthetic Rehabilitation Specialist, highlighted the use of electronic prescription systems to minimize errors. In cases where electronic prescriptions are not feasible, measures like writing clearly with waterproof ink, verifying patient details, specifying drug details clearly, and reviewing a patient’s medical history are essential to avoid mistakes, complications, and hazards.

Dr. Kapil Borawake, Director of ICU and Senior Consultant in Internal Medicine at Sahyadri Hospital, emphasizes clarity and precision in prescriptions. Doctors ensure that the patient’s name is recorded meticulously, the prescription date is clear, and medications are listed in capital letters to avoid illegible handwriting. Specific drug details, dosage, frequency, and administration routes are explicitly mentioned. Instructions regarding when to take the medication and the duration of the prescription are provided. Quantities to be dispensed are clearly stated, and authentication with the doctor’s name and registration number is vital.

While electronic medical records (EMRs) offer advantages like long-term storage and easy access, handwritten prescriptions still maintain a personal touch. However, healthcare professionals acknowledge the benefits of electronic prescriptions, such as quick retrieval using barcode technology.

In today’s healthcare landscape, technologies like EMRs and digital records play a pivotal role in ensuring the precision of prescriptions, enhancing patient safety, and streamlining healthcare management. On World Patient Safety Day, these efforts to write safer prescriptions contribute to improved patient care and well-being.

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