Rational Prescribing: The Principles of Drug Selection

Patients do not visit the hospital expecting the doctor to tell them to get bedrest, without any drug prescriptions. As a doctor, not prescribing any drugs to your patients might make you look a little incompetent in their eyes. This is why you may feel a subtle pressure to fulfill their expectations by sometimes prescribing unnecessary drugs. These drugs may trigger underlying health conditions in such patients. In this article, we will look at ways in which doctors can prescribe and select medications more accurately for their patients.

  • Consider the Patient’s Medical History

It is essential for a doctor to take account of the patient’s medical history as well as their current health status before prescribing. This will help in discovering any underlying health conditions or issues that the doctor or even the patients (in some cases) might not be aware of. A knowledge of all these will help the doctor identify any potential interactions or adverse reactions which the drug to be prescribed may cause. It will also inform the doctor of the need to change such drugs, if possible.

  • Use Online Medical Resources

Using an online resource like PrescriberPoint to select medications for your patients can help a lot with prescription accuracy. PrescriberPoint provides support for prescribers by giving you access to several resources such as evidence-backed contents, updated guidelines, coverage restrictions, drug interactions and prior authorization. It is designed to make the process of prescribing easier, more streamlined and quality-assured.

  • Review the Patient’s Medication History

You should make sure to review your patient’s medication history before selecting or prescribing new drugs for them. This will help you see if they have previously taken any medications that were not effective, in order not to repeat such medication. This will also help you to know if any drugs they had taken in the past, had caused adverse reactions thereby averting new problems for you.

  • Check For Allergies, Drug Reactions and Drug Interactions

Patients often have allergies that can trigger serious medical conditions when not managed. If you are not privy to such information in their medical history, ask them in order to be sure. Some of these allergies can be triggered by drugs or even a chemical component of such a drug. You should also check for potential drug interactions that could occur between the new medication, any drug the patient is currently taking or the ones they might have taken in very recent times. Doing these will help you make better judgments with drug prescriptions.

  • Consider Patient’s Age and Weight

The age and weight of a patient can affect how their body processes medication. Similarly, some medications are explicitly age-restricted. Apart from the general age divisions into children, adolescents, adults and the old, some medications are explicitly for a particular age grade. Therefore,  you need to take into account the actual age of your patients while prescribing to avoid mistakes that could lead to serious damages.

  • Keep Up-to-date with Drug Information

Doctors need to constantly keep up-to-date with the latest drug information and developments. This includes having knowledge of new drugs on the market, drug recalls and changes to dosage or recommendations. Dosage information is particularly important because wrong dosage instruction can lead to underdose or overdose, both of which can have adverse effects on the patient . This will in turn, help doctors make more informed and appropriate decisions when prescribing medications.

  • Write Prescriptions in a Legible Manner

Though prescriptions are now being typed and even generated online, some doctors still use the traditional method of writing by hand. If you are writing by hand, make sure that your writing is legible enough for the pharmacist to read clearly without having to second-guess what they think should be there. Also make sure to use clear, understandable and unambiguous language while writing prescriptions.

  • Make Prescriptions Within the Limits of Your Expertise

The medications you prescribe to your patient’s should be within the limits of your skills, knowledge and experience. Of course, if you are a specialist doctor, it will not be ideal for you to make prescriptions for all types of patients. In that case, it is advisable to seek advice or support from qualified colleagues. You could even refer patients to them, if possible.


Safe drug prescriptions can give patients the best recovery process and help them live better, illness-free and fulfilled lives. It also helps doctors to make better judgements especially when they use online sources as they are able to give easier, faster and problem-solving prescriptions to their patients.