How to write a prescription: Guidelines for Dentist

Basic legal requirements of a prescription

  • Prescription should be written in ink / be indelible (including computer-generated prescriptions)
  • Prescription should be signed and dated by the prescriber
  • Clearly indicate name, address and qualification of prescriber
  • Specify full name and address of patient, and if patient <12 years old, specify age or date of birth
  • Writing should be legible.

Good practice points

  • Prescribe using the generic drug name, even if the drug is not available in the generic form
  • Do not use abbreviations
  • State name of drug, dose, route and duration of treatment.
  • Draw a diagonal line across the blank part of the form under the prescription to prevent fraudulent alterations or additions being made
  • Alterations are best avoided but if any are made they should be clear, unambiguous and endorsed with the prescriber’s signature
  • Avoid the unnecessary use of decimal points eg 3 grammes should be written as 3g and not 3.0g, quantities of less than 1 gram should be written in milligrams e.g. 500mg, not 0.5g
  • When decimals are unavoidable, a zero should be written in front of the decimal point where there is no other figure e.g. 0.5ml, not .5ml. It is advisable to avoid trailing zeros e.g. 0.50ml
  • Check allergy status of the patient
  • Check dosing, contraindications and potential side effects (e.g. from the Summary of Product Characteristics or in a recognised formulary, such as the BNF) prior to issuing prescription
  • Check what other medicines the patient is taking, including non-prescription items, which may interfere with the new medicine
  • Caution in potential high-risk groups e.g. pregnancy/breastfeeding, elderly, children (refer to BNF for further details)
  • Advise patients of possible, likely and probable side effects and encourage them to report back any problems
  • Respond promptly (either reducing dose / discontinuing drug) to a patient’s concern / adverse drug reaction (ADR). In the event of a serious side effect, or any ADR to a newly authorised product, report it to the HPRA ( for downloadable ADR reporting form or can report on-line)
  • Record prescription details in the patient’s notes

Patient Information

Visit HPSC Information Leaflets pages for the General Public, (MRSA, CRE, etc)

Reviewed Dec 2019

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