What is a nurse’s professional risk when calling in a prescription to a pharmacy, per physician’s orders, that a patient picks up without a paper prescription upon discharge from the hospital? What if the nurse calls in a prescription, per physician’s orders, but the patient has a script in hand upon arrival at the pharmacy? Would a nurse be held liable if an error were to occur in the delivery of the correct prescription to the patient at the pharmacy?
It is fairly common these days for a nurse to call in prescriptions ordered by a physician or advanced practice nurse for a patient being discharged. This happens especially when the facility does not have a system in place where the healthcare provider ordering the prescriptions directly emails the prescriptions to a pharmacy for pick-up by the patient or the patient’s family.
By the way, the electronic method of emailing prescriptions is not foolproof either. The person emailing — whether it’s a physician, a resident or and advanced practice nurse — may click on the wrong medication to be filled. Or, if a cut-and-paste format is used for medications, the wrong medication could be sent to the pharmacy if this list is not up-to-date and is simply used from one hospital visit to the next.
You are right that calling in prescriptions may raise concerns that an electronic system or handwritten scripts do not raise. However, documentation of the call to the pharmacy and what was said, based on the physician’s orders, is one way to avoid liability as much as possible.
Discuss this concern with your nurse manager if you think you might be able to change the current procedures for contacting the pharmacy with prescriptions for discharged patients. Raising your concerns with risk management might also be an option.