Prescribing a medicine

Prescribing a medicine

You can prescribe electronically e.g. all preparations in the Pharmaceutical Database, medical consumables and medications prepared in the pharmacy. The electronic prescription is stored in the Prescription Centre.

All prescriptions must be issued electronically. However, the following will still be issued on a paper prescription:

  • Pro Auctore prescriptions
  • medical gases
  • special licence preparations specific to a patient or institution

The healthcare unit must inform the patient about the electronic prescription and record that this has been done in the patient records system. The information is provided either verbally, in writing, or via an electronic service. The information need not be given each time, but once is sufficient. The patient always has the option of obtaining the information also in writing.  

Before prescribing a medicine, the doctor should check the Prescription Centre for the patient’s existing prescriptions. In a care situation, it is not necessary for a doctor to ask the client for separate consent for viewing prescription data. If the prescription data needs to be retrieved for another purpose, the client’s written consent is needed for it. The Prescription Centre also shows dispensing details for the prescriptions; i.e., the names of products dispensed to the patient at the pharmacy, when medicines were last picked up and the amount of the medicine left on an existing prescription.

What may be prescribed

All preparations in the Pharmaceutical Database may be prescribed electronically, such as

  • drug preparations subject to sale licenses (incl. narcotics and CNS drugs)
  • preparations with temporary special licenses
  • reimbursable base creams
  • reimbursable clinical nutrition preparations

You can also prescribe electronically using

  • the chemical drug name (generic prescribing),
  • medications prepared in the pharmacy, and
  • preparations not included in the Pharmaceutical Database. These include e.g.
    • medical consumables
    • non-reimbursable dietary supplements
    • non-reimbursable base creams
    • dressings.

The doctor may include a note to the pharmacy with an electronic prescription. In the note, the doctor may give instructions on dispensing the drug, e.g. that the drug may be dispensed only after a certain date.

For persons without a personal identity code, their name and date of birth can be used to issue a prescription. This kind of a prescription can be dispensed by a pharmacy only with a patient instruction sheet or summary.

Doctors may issue an electronic prescription for themselves. Nurses or medical students with prescribing rights may not issue electronic prescriptions for themselves.

Patient instruction sheet

The electronic prescription is stored in the Prescription Centre. A patient instruction sheet to be given to the patient is printed out at the same time with issuing prescriptions.

The patient instructions need not be given if the patient is not present at the prescriber's surgery or clinic when the prescription is issued. Similarly, the patient instructions need not be given if this is not possible for technical reasons or if the electronic prescription is issued using a device with no fixed position.

The patient instructions contain details of the drugs prescribed and directions on dosages. The patient instructions can be printed off from the patient records system for 12 hours from the issue of the electronic prescription. It can also be printed off from amended and repeated prescriptions. The patient instruction sheet includes a barcode which individualises the prescription and speeds up the transaction at the pharmacy.

Summary of electronic prescriptions

Patients can request for a print-out summarising their prescription data stored in the Prescription Centre at the place of their treatment or in the pharmacy. The summary can be printed with

  • all of the patient's electronic prescriptions
  • all prescriptions issued within a certain period, or
  • all prescriptions with drugs outstanding.

The patient may also print a summary of his or her electronic prescriptions in MyKanta.

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Last updated 13.2.2024