The word "prescription", from "pre-" ("before") and "script" ("writing, written"), refers to the fact that the prescription is an order that must be written down before a drug can be dispensed. Prescription is a written order by the prescriber to the dispenser on how the drug should be dispensed. It serves as a means of communication among the prescriber, dispenser and drug consumer pertaining to treatment. That is why doctors are legally obliged to write prescription clearly. However, most of the time prescriptions are found to be unclear. Accordingly, the main objective of this survey study was to investigate the factors that affect proper prescription writing in Jimma University specialized hospital. In order to achieve the main objective, four specific objectives related to knowledge and perception on importance of good prescription and consequences of sloppy prescription writing, the practice of good prescription writing and other factors that affect the proper prescription writing were formulated. One hundred (25%) of the physicians and 50(100%) of the pharmacists were included in the survey. In order to select sample physicians, convenience sampling technique was employed. In order to collect data from the sample, two instruments namely questionnaire and document analysis were used. The collected data were analyzed using percentage and mean value. The result of the survey showed that most of the physicians have knowledge on the importance of clear prescription writing and they positively perceived that sloppy prescription writing has negative impact on both pharmacists and patients. Nevertheless, the magnitude of writing clear prescription was low because 54.8% of the sample prescriptions were proved to be illegible. Moreover, 70% of the pharmacists also reported that physicians write clear prescription only some times. The major factors that affect the proper prescription writing, according to the physicians, are shortage of time (69%), difficulty of some medicine names to spell (80%) and lack of feedback from pharmacists (52%) on their (physicians’) unclear prescription writing. Therefore, the university in collaboration with the hospital administrative bodies, ministry of health and other concerned bodies should work to make the physicians responsible and work cooperatively with pharmacists to alleviate the problem because illegible prescription may pose a medical threat to the treatment of a patient.
Key words: Prescription, writing, medical threat, illegible handwriting.
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