Prescribing medications is one of the main strategies to the prevention and treatment of disease in modern healthcare. Per capita utilization of prescription drugs, predicated on the top 200 drugs dispensed by U.S. community pharmacies, is about 12 prescriptions per person per year.26-28 Adults over 50 years of age consume the largest number of prescription medications and account for 64% of the total number of prescriptions dispensed.
While drugs have the capacity to enhance health, they all have the potential to cause harm if prescribed inappropriately. For this reasons it is recommended that healthcare professionals who prescribe medications exercise critical thinking skills to ensure the safe and effective use of therapeutic agents. The following ten steps, along with ongoing self-directed learning, reflect an efficient and practical approach to prescription writing and avoiding errors (Box C).29,30