Prescriptions are the doctor ordered dosage instructions for drug treatments. They may also be made up for medical appliances. Many medications and treatments are only available from a pharmacy with the permission of a doctor. Part of pharmacist and pharmacist technician training is learning to read these special instructions, but prescriptions are important to all sorts of medical professionals.
The use of prescriptions protects the patient. Without proper oversight, some treatments might not be received effectively, while others are potentially toxic or dependency forming. ADHD medication and painkillers in the opiate family are all examples of the latter, while many, many more drugs could have patient harming side effects such as organ damage, if taken in incorrect levels. Furthermore the act of repeatedly consulting with medical professionals allows for patient monitoring, as the patient receives refills. This allows the doctor to check for the sudden onset of side effects.
For additional security, doctors use prescription pads. Using the same technology used by cheques, the pre-printed paper includes contact information for the doctor, as well as any forgery protection such as water marks and embedded threads or embossing. Doctor must keep very strict records of all the prescriptions they issue, and have legal oversight limiting how much of drugs they can give to patients. These are part of the records that you will find in the archives of a hospital or doctor's office, and care for these is part of medical office assistant training. Additionally, medical office assistants learn to dispense advice for patients, to remind them of treatment methods and best practices.
Prescriptions can be issued for a general drug or for a brand name. Some insurance programs only cover the cost of a generic unless explicitly stated by a doctor. For various reasons, patients may prefer the brand name, though since the dose and chemicals are the same it is usually issues like flavouring agents or comforting patient anxiety.
After receiving a prescription and instructions, a patient can choose any pharmacy they like. Most people have a single pharmacy in close proximity to their residence. These let the pharmacy handle insurance details quickly and keep an ongoing medical file on their patients, which lets them double check about drug conflicts and constancy of dose. Some pharmacies will even assign someone with pharmacy technician training to call patients and warn them to pick up refills. There are even delivery services.
Meanwhile pharmacist and pharmacy technician courses, as well as teaching how to measure and dispense drugs and treatments, also tech how to interpret a prescription. Pharmacy workers of all kinds get familiar with cryptic handwriting, and the notation used for dose levels. They know what the law is governing what may or may not be dispensed, and a regrettable but necessary part of pharmacy technician training is watching for prescription fraud.