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A formal document, called the prescription, has to be signed and dated by the prescriber. The prescription is issued by the prescriber and passed to the individual, the care home or direct to the pharmacy. In certain circumstances, the prescription can be faxed from the prescriber to the pharmacy, and the pharmacy will then deliver the medication directly to your home. This cannot be done in respect of controlled drugs. A pharmacy will not issue controlled drugs without seeing the original prescription, which must be written in black ink and be signed by the prescriber.

The majority of the medication that is administered to clients or service users will be prescribed by a GP. It's not our role as health or social care professionals to decide what medication is to be given. But we do need to be aware of the medication we are giving - and its purpose. We need to have an understanding of what it is used for and any potential side effects. When issuing a prescription, the doctor will take into account various factors. They look at the client's age, weight and any other medications that they're on. Often it takes time to get the exact dose of medication right.

The GP will start at a base level, and this can be tweaked up or down, depending on the symptoms of the condition. In many cases, it can be trial and error. The GP may prescribe a medication, not knowing exactly if it will work, because there are various different forms of medication in certain groups. With these medications, you will have to monitor the positive effects, side effects and any changes in your client. Details of the medication will be in the instruction leaflet, but there should also be a copy of the BNF, the British National Formulary within your workplace or a similar information book; the books list all medications, as well as their indications, contraindications, side effects, and you can refer to them any time or, as previously stated, you can always call the pharmacist for advice.

As previously mentioned, doctors take into account various factors when prescribing. It's especially important when prescribing for the elderly client group, children and infants as dosages may be a lot smaller. We have to bear in mind that over the years the elderly client group may have an excess build-up of medication within their body. Also, their liver and kidneys work less efficiently, so their liver won't break down the medication as easily and the kidneys won't excrete it. Also, the side effects may be more obvious within the elderly client group. As previously stated, the doctor should take all these factors into account when prescribing the medication.

We are now going to talk about polypharmacy. This is where two or more medications are prescribed. The doctor prescribing the medications will be fully aware of all the side effects and interactions between the two medications. Staff also need to have a basic awareness of the medications being prescribed, especially any that have known side effects. The GP may decide that the benefits of the medication far outweigh any side effects. When talking about polypharmacy, you need to consider your homely remedies. As has been previously discussed, always make sure you know what's in the homely remedy and that it's not going to interact with any medication that the client has already been prescribed. As we’ve stated throughout this course and will continue to state, if there are any concerns, always ask your colleagues, your line manager, your pharmacist or the prescribing GP.