British National Formulary (BNF)
'How to complete a prescription form' section
Extending Independent Nurse Prescribing within
NHS Scotland: A guide for implementation (2002),
'Annex B. Prescription forms' in Extending
Independent Nurse Prescribing within the NHS in
England: A guide for implementation (2004),
Use the links below to view and print out
a copy of one of the following prescriptions relevant
to your work:
Think of a patient for whom you are likely to prescribe.
Check all the details of the item you would prescribe
in the BNF and,
using the guidelines, complete the sample prescription.
Use the tick boxes and complete the checklist
the checklist and use this as a guide to completing
the prescription form.
- Have you used ink, and is your writing legible?
- Have you stated the full name and address
of the patient, and the patient's age if this
is under 12 years?
you stated clearly the full generic name of the drug, preparation
or appliance required?
- Have you stated the required presentation,
strength and size of the medication/appliance,
- Have you written the units of strength correctly?
For example, grams, milligrams or micrograms?
you indicated the quantity to be supplied?
- Have you stated the dose and dose frequency,
and the minimum dose interval, if necessary?
- Are your directions written in English (not Latin), and are they unabbreviated?
- Have you signed and dated the form?
You can practise this with a number of different
types of medications, such as oral medication,
topical applications, dressings, appliances and
Awareness of fraud and reporting it
It is estimated that theft, forgery and counterfeit of prescription
forms costs the NHS about £15m a year (Winyard and Hartley, 1997).
Prescription fraud is usually committed by a person who:
- Obtains multiple prescriptions
from different doctors for the same drug
- Writes their own prescriptions using
a stolen prescription pad
- Poses as a doctor and requests a prescription for themselves.
By dispensing medication on a forged prescription a pharmacist
is committing an offence, whether they are aware that the
prescription is a forgery or not. A pharmacist may therefore
contact you if they have any doubts about the authenticity
It is hoped that the introduction of electronic prescriptions
will lead to a decline in such fraud. People will be unable
to steal prescription pads and thus pose as a doctor. In addition,
because a patient's medical history will be easily accessible,
it will be more difficult to obtain the same prescription
from different doctors.
Security and safe keeping of prescription pads
The following points ensure good practice in the security and safe handling
- Hold only minimal stocks of prescription forms
This reduces the number lost if there is a theft or break-in.
Arrangements for the secure storage of prescription forms
is the responsibility of both the prescriber and the employing
- Do not leave prescriptions
- Keep prescriptions/prescription pads under lock
and key when they are not needed
They are less likely to be stolen from a locked cupboard
than from the back of your car or your bag.
records of serial numbers of prescriptions as they are issued
The first and last serial numbers of the pad should be
recorded. This will help to identify any stolen prescriptions.
- Blank prescription
forms should not be pre-signed
This reduces the risk of misuse should prescription forms
fall into the wrong hands.
- Establish a local policy regarding monitoring
the use of prescription forms, to deter the creation of
Consider how you could establish a local policy
to ensure effective monitoring of the use of prescription
- Who would need to be involved?
- What measures could be taken
to monitor the prescriptions written, for example, in one
Ordering and supplying prescription forms
Prescription pads are usually sent to trusts, community health
partnerships and employers after the primary care information
group of the Information and Statistics Division has received
notification of newly qualified nurse prescribers. Managers
of hospital-based nurses should order HBPN forms, which will
be supplied ready for stamping.
The arrangements for obtaining and supplying prescription order
forms for nurse prescribers are detailed in the following
England and Wales
Go to Annex B.
There are two methods of issuing prescription pads
in Northern Ireland:
- Supplementary prescribers make their application through
the employing trust
- Independent extended nurse prescribers apply directly to the
Northern Ireland Health and Social Services Board.
Once applications have been made, they are forwarded to the Central
Services Agency in Belfast, which then issues
the prescription pads.
Loss of prescription forms
If a prescription form or pad has been mislaid or lost, the
prescriber must report the loss to the primary care manager
of their employing trust or NHS board immediately after the
disappearance has been confirmed. The prescriber should also
inform the GP.
The primary care manager should notify the fraud liaison officer
at the primary care trust/board, who should notify the local
pharmacists and the Practitioner Services Fraud Investigation
Unit. These maintain a database of lost/stolen prescription
The loss or theft of a prescription form in the hospital setting
should be reported immediately to whoever issued it
usually, the hospital pharmacy and the local fraud
specialist, if applicable.
- Sometimes after the loss of a prescription form the prescriber
will be asked to write and sign all prescriptions in a
particular colour of ink for the next two months, to help
detect further fraud (fraudulent prescriptions are likely
to be written in a different colour)
- It is the responsibility of the employer to ensure that
prescription pads are retrieved from prescribers who leave
their employment. The pads must be destroyed by shredding
and treated as confidential waste
- It is good practice to record the first and last serial
numbers of the pads destroyed.