UAE, March 5, 2018 - The Ministry of Health and Prevention has issued a circular directing doctors practicing in the UAE private medical facilities to issue an electronic or printed medical prescription instead of handwritten ones within six months from the circular’s issuance date. The move will prevent the error of giving wrong medicines to patients by pharmacists due to illegible handwriting on prescriptions, which could lead to wrong medications being dispensed or incorrect doses recommended and this could in some cases cause serious complications. The circular is addressed to the directors of medical districts, managers of private and public medical facilities, private medical practitioners, and managers of private pharmacies.
H.E. Dr. Amin Hussein Al Amiri, Assistant Undersecretary for the Ministry’s Public Health Policy and Licensing, said that handwritten prescriptions issued by government or private medical facilities will not be accepted after the indicated deadline. According to him, there are specific UAE laws that mandate precise details to be clearly written on the medical prescription including the medicine name, dosage, route of administration, the name of the patient and the doctor, the physician’s signature, and the date of the prescription.
He added: “To protect public health, we call on all health facilities licensed by the Ministry of Health to adhere to this circular and work on implementing its provisions in the best possible way.”
Protecting public health
H.E. revealed that error due to illegible medical prescription is a global phenomenon. A US study conducted by the Medical Institute in Washington concluded that unreadable prescriptions lead to about 7,000 deaths worldwide, with 20 per cent suffering from side effects.
Although the number of such cases in the UAE is small, the Ministry has acted to curb these preventable mistakes in line with its strategy to enhance community health through delivery of world-class comprehensive, innovative, and fair healthcare services. The Ministry is also tasked to regulate and supervise the healthcare sector as well as build a modern and integrated health legislative system according to the objectives of UAE Vision 2021.
Strict drug control
The electronic prescription system will provide accurate statistics, thereby contributing to the Ministry’s strategic planning in relation to the UAE’s drug market. The system is an advanced automated platform for controlling the movement of medicines and eliminating paper prescriptions that present a threat to the safety of the society. His Excellency confirmed that the Ministry exerts strict control on drugs importation.
After six months, the Ministry and pharmacies will not accept handwritten prescriptions. He called on the public to ask for printed drug prescriptions from their doctors after the effective date and report any violation.
Electronic system for controlled and semi-controlled medicines
The Ministry has adopted an electronic system for monitoring the movement of controlled and semi-controlled drugs four year ago. H.E. Dr. Al Amiri said adopting such an advanced system for controlled and semi-controlled drugs has resulted in accurate statistics useful for the country's strategic pharmaceutical planning, as well as led to the protection of young people by limiting their access to these types of drugs with the support of the Dubai Police General Department. This is also part of the Ministry's effort to build an effective and sustainable health system for a happier society.
The system also allows the ministry to monitor the inventory of controlled medicines in each pharmacy and drug store. Additionally, drug information is available electronically, such as the name of the drug, brand name, concentration, pack size, batch number, expiry date, available quantity before and after dispensing of prescriptions, and number of dispensed prescriptions. The system also helps prevent repetition of prescriptions and avoid duplication of effects of different medicines in the same prescription.
Strict control of imported medicines
H.E. explained that the electronic prescription system eliminates the inconvenience of paper prescriptions, which threatens public safety, and inappropriate use of such prescriptions. He also pointed out that the Ministry imposes strict control on all imported medicines and monitors controlled and semi-controlled drugs through the electronic system launched by the Ministry four years ago in cooperation with Dubai Police. The launch was made after authorities learned of loss of prescriptions or indiscriminate use of handwritten prescriptions for controlled drugs by addicts.
He revealed that the statistics of the electronic prescription system of the controlled and semi-controlled drug, which was Adopted by the Empowerment and Health Compliance Department, show that the system has become widely used in the country.