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Publication - Advice and guidance

Supplementary Prescribing by Nurses within NHSScotland: A Guide for Implementation

Published: 1 Dec 2003
Part of:
Health and social care

Supplementary Prescribing by Nurses within NHS Scotland

49 page PDF

679.0 kB

49 page PDF

679.0 kB

Supplementary Prescribing by Nurses within NHSScotland: A Guide for Implementation
Page 12

49 page PDF

679.0 kB

Supplementary Prescribing by Nurses within NHSScotland: A Guide for Implementation


1. Detailed advice on writing prescriptions is contained in the British National Formulary (BNF) and the Nurse Prescribers' Formulary.

2. Information on the front of the prescription form should be written clearly and legibly using indelible ink (preferably black) or by printing using appropriate computer prescribing stationery and a computer prescribing system.

3. The information required is as follows:

  • The patient's title, forename, surname and address (including postcode) and if available the patient's Community Health Index (CHI) number.

  • The patient's date of birth, and age if under 12 years.

NB. It is a legal requirement to write the patient's age on the prescription when prescribing Prescription Only Medicines for a child under 12 years of age.

  • If using computer prescribing systems the above information must be printed; for hand written prescriptions, enter if known e.g. from patient notes.

  • For prescribing in primary care, and for patients whose prescriptions will be dispensed in the community, the prescription must contain the name of the prescribed item, formulation, strength (if appropriate) dosage and frequency, and quantity to be dispensed. The quantity prescribed should be appropriate to the patient's treatment needs, bearing in mind the need to avoid waste. Some medicines are only available in patient packs (or multiples thereof) 3,4 and special containers 5 and the pack (or multiple pack) quantity should be prescribed, provided this is clinically and economically appropriate. The quantity should be specified for solid preparations as number of dose-units (number of tablets, capsules, lozenges, patches etc), for liquid measures in millilitres (mL or ml), for topical preparations by mass (grams, g) or volume (millilitres, mL or ml). Terms such as "1 Pack" or "1 OP" should not be used. Alternatively, for preparations to be given at a fixed dose and interval, the duration of treatment can be given in place of quantity to be dispensed.

  • In hospitals, prescriptions for inpatients should contain the name of the prescribed item, formulation, strength (if any), dosage and frequency. Where a defined length of treatment is required this should be stated. For outpatients and discharge prescriptions, the requirements are the same as those for primary/community care, whilst recognising local policies for example on the length of treatment provided for outpatients and patients who are being discharged.

  • The names of medicines should be written clearly. Nurses are recommended to prescribe generically, except where this would not be clinically appropriate or where there is no approved generic name - see the Nurse Prescribers' Formulary for District Nurses and Health Visitors, the Nurse Prescribers' Extended Formulary, the BNF and the Scottish Drug Tariff. Names of medicines and generic titles should not be abbreviated. Exceptions to this rule are for the prescribing of some dressings and appliances, and of compound or modified release medicines which have no approved non-proprietary name.

  • Directions should be in English and not abbreviated.

  • Where there is more than one item on a form, a line should be inserted between each item for clarity.

  • Unused space in the prescription area of the form should be blocked out with, for example, a diagonal line (to prevent subsequent fraudulent addition of extra items).

  • The prescriber must sign and date the form.

  • On hospital prescriptions only: the nurse's name printed or hand written in the box provided, i.e. a contact name for the dispensing pharmacist.