Guest Post - Infographic: Helping Nurses Decode Prescriptions for Patients

Guest post by Monica Gomez, gomezmonica53@gmail.com

Nurses everywhere know how frustrating it can be to decipher prescriptions. Whether attempting to decode a doctor's chicken scratch, simplify overly complicated medical names into layman's terms, or understand a pharmacy's abbreviation, prescriptions can sometimes be a headache. Imagine how much worse it is for patients, who are not medical professionals trained to understand the specific nuances of prescription medications and how they interact with one another.

The infographic below, “Decoding Your Prescriptions: Understanding Pharmacy Abbreviations,” was developed by Carrington College, a vocational school specializing in healthcare, to help people better understand pharmacy prescriptions. While it may simply serve as a refresher for nurses, it can be an important educational tool to use with patients. The information is accessible and explains in eye-catching visualizations some basic facts about prescription medications and pharmacy abbreviations, including what goes into the typical prescription. Understanding dosage, strength, route of administration, and potential complications is information that’s important for patients to grasp.

Having a solid foundation of this knowledge could even have the potential to improve and preserve a patient's health. Tragically, 100,000 people die each year due to adverse drug reactions (ADRs). Nurses can imprint the gravity of ADRs to patients by referring to the infographic’s illustrations and explaining the risks involved with prescribing multiple medications.

Nurses may also learn something new. For example, some might find it surprising to learn that more than 80% of American adults are consistently prescribed at least one medication. Moreover, almost 30% of American adults take 5 medications or more.

You may want to print the infographic and have it visible to patients in a waiting room, or print a copy for patients who would like to learn more about the details of prescription medications. Anything that makes decoding prescriptions easier for patients also makes it easier for nurses!