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Problems in Prescription Order Communications

William S. Apple, PhD; Robert E. Abrams, MS
JAMA. 1963;185(4):291-293. doi:10.1001/jama.1963.03060040075025.
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THE PRESCRIPTION ORDER is the focal point of the physician-patient-pharmacist relationship. In 1962, more than 700 million prescription orders carried communications from physicians to pharmacists.

The basic safeguard for the patient of having one practitioner prescribe and another dispense was recognized by law as early as 1240 AD. With the separation of professional functions, a new responsibility was created which must be shared jointly by the prescribing physician and the dispensing pharmacist.

The need for absolute precision in prescription order communications—written or oral—is made obvious to all medical and pharmacy students. Later, in practice, the volume and tempo of these communications increase so substantially that unless practitioners are constantly on the alert, situations tend to develop which can be hazardous for the patient.

The many anecdotes concerning the physician's handwriting reflect a certain public awareness of the communications problem, and the increase in criminal actions and civil damage suits is


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