Tariff Tip :Dispensing from a faxed prescription

Q: I have received a faxed prescription for ‘Levothyroxine 100mcg tablets x 28’ -  am I ok to dispense it?

A:  Faxed copies of prescriptions are not legally valid documents.

A faxed copy of a prescription is not a legally valid document under the Human Medicines Regulations because it has not been signed by an appropriate prescriber in indelible ink.[1]

There are a number of issues to consider if dispensing from a fax copy:

  • Has the fax been sent from a doctor’s surgery?
  • Can you be certain it has not been reproduced and/or sent to other pharmacies?
  • Poor reproduction of the original could lead to a dispensing error.
  • The original prescription may not be genuine.
  • You may never receive the original prescription.
  • The prescriber may have changed the original prescription since the fax was sent.

So, an electronic prescription would be a better alternative than sending a fax in this instance. Electronic prescriptions have a legally valid, secure, electronic signature.

However, a faxed prescription could be used as an Emergency Supply at the request of the prescriber.  The emergency supply must meet the following conditions:

  • You are satisfied that it is from a registered prescriber
  • The prescriber agrees to supply the original paper prescription to you within 72 hours (note that it is the prescriber’s legal responsibility to supply within 72 hours)
  • The prescription is not for a Schedule 1, 2, or 3 controlled drug with the exception of phenobarbital for epilepsy
  • An entry must be made in the prescription register, to include:
    • Name and quantity of medicine supplied (including strength and form where appropriate)
    • Name and address of the prescriber who requests the emergency supply
    • Name and address of patient
    • The date written on the prescription (once received)
    • The date when the prescription is actually received

[1] Medicines, Ethics and Practice: The professional guide for pharmacists; Edition 38; July 2014 page 33; The Royal Pharmaceutical Society

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