Deciphering the doctor’s prescription
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.