De­ci­pher­ing the doc­tor’s pre­scrip­tion

Townsville Bulletin - - The Good Life -

I N

the months ahead, nearly ev­ery­body read­ing this col­umn will visit their doc­tor. Of­ten it will be for a mi­nor symp­tom. Or it maybe some­thing more com­plex re­quir­ing deeper in­ter­ven­tion and man­age­ment.

Of­ten ad­vice is given, mostly forgotten by the time the surgery exit is reached.

But one is­sue is for cer­tain. Ma­jor­ity will be clutch­ing a bit of pa­per, com­monly called The Pre­scrip­tion.

What­ever is re­mem­bered or forgotten is im­ma­te­rial.

So long as the bit of pa­per finds its way soon af­ter into the hands of a phar­ma­cist, col­lected and taken home.

That’s the big is­sue, the big pic­ture, the real chal­lenge. Is it taken as di­rected, or does the stuff sim­ply sit on the kitchen bench?

Re­search shows the first bit is taken, but most is left. Of­ten to be shoved in cup­boards where it may sit for days, weeks, months and even years!

How­ever, the ev­ery­day pre­scrip­tion has cer­tain in­ter­est­ing fea­tures.

To­day, many are com­puter gen­er­ated. Some are still hand­writ­ten. What does it all mean. Typed copies are easy to read, but are they mean­ing­ful?

Let’s dis­sect a pre­scrip­tion, from yes­ter­year to to­day.

Typ­i­cally it con­tains the name, qual­i­fi­ca­tions and ad­dress of the doc­tor.

Then an of­fi­cial gov­ern­ment pre­scriber num­ber. Af­ter this an omi­nous Rx. This stands for Take Thou, an in­struc­tion to the dis­pens­ing chemist.

Once a bab­ble of gab­ble in dog latin fol­lowed, but to­day this is more leg­i­ble.

Then a se­ries of let­ters and fig­ures. Af­ter the name of the prod­uct (or in­gre­di­ents) comes the word Sig, mean­ing la­bel or in­struct.

Then var­i­ous fig­ures. They mean i=1, ii-2, iii=3, iv=4, v=5, ix=9, x=10, xx=20, L=50, c=100, M-1,000.

Next is Mitte which means put or the num­ber re­quired, a fig­ure for tablets or quan­tity for liq­uids.

This was once in drams and ounces, to­day in mL=milli=litres, thou­sandth part of a litre L (once cc. or cu­bic cen­time­ter).

One tsp (tea­spoon­ful) = 5mL. In­di­vid­ual fig­ures are short­hand too. i/diem = once a day, bd (twice) and tds (thrice) a day.

Pc means af­ter food, ac be­fore food, prn = as re­quired, nocte at bed­time, mane in the morn­ing. Et = and.

Mist (=Mis­tura or mix­ture) Tab = tablet. There­fore, Rx mist aq. Sig v mL, bd m et n, pc et noct, mitte c mL sim­ply means a tea­spoon­ful of wa­ter morn­ing and night af­ter meals and at bed­time, and put in a 100mL bot­tle. Very mys­ti­fy­ing.

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