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Glossary

Administration

Process by which a medicine is introduced into, or applied onto, the patient’s body.

Advice

The act of giving information to service users pertaining to aspects of the condition for which they are seeking intervention. The information given may be an opinion or recommendation relating to suggested future intervention or actions. The information may include guidance to seek the opinion of another health professional. The information is given to the service user to consider, and the service user may choose whether to act on the advice given or not.

Appropriate practitioner

Registered professional defined within medicines legislation as being authorised to issue prescriptions for POM class medicines and/or to receive bulk supplies of POM class medicines.

Black-triangle drugs

New licensed medicines under intensive monitoring by the MHRA and subject to special adverse incident reporting requirements. The MHRA issues a monthly list of medicines subject to Black Triangle status. 

British National Formulary (BNF)

The BNF is a joint publication of the British Medical Association and the Royal Pharmaceutical Society. It is published biannually. The BNF aims to provide prescribers, pharmacists, and other healthcare professionals with sound up-to-date information about the use of medicines. The BNF contains medicines for therapeutic use; it does not include contrast agents which are for diagnostic purposes.

Clinical governance

Quality assured activities which ensure that pre-determined clinical standards that have been set, are maintained by practitioners, and are evident within health care settings.

Clinical Management Plan (CMP)

A written plan (which may be amended from time to time) relating to the treatment of an individual patient which is agreed by the patient, the independent prescriber (a doctor or dentist only) and the supplementary prescriber who is to prescribe medicines under the plan.

Licensed medicines including off-label and black triangle products, unlicensed medicines and controlled drugs may be included in a CMP. A CMP may be for a named medicine or a group of medicines eg non-specified NSAIDs.

Commissioner

Person or organisation that requests and/or funds a service or activity.

Competence

The ability of an individual to demonstrate their capability in a certain skill area at a defined level of ability at a set point in time.

Competencies

The component skills that describe and define the actions and activities required in order to demonstrate competence in a skill area.

Controlled drug

A medicine subject to control by the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 and the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2001.

Dispensing

To label from stock. The activities undertaken, in response to formal orders, when medicines are issued to the place where they will be used, or supplied directly to the patient.

Disposal

The removal and disposal of medicines that are no longer required or are no longer suitable for their intended use and /or the removal of unwanted medicines or waste materials from the clinical site.

FP10, FP10SS, FP10CD

Types of prescription forms

General Sales List GSL

A medicine for which all active ingredients are listed in the relevant Human Medicines Regulations schedule, or are so classified in their marketing authorisation.

Guidance

Document containing recommendations for the use of a particular treatment and/or modality, the circumstances when it should be used and the population/patient groups who should receive it. 

Health professionals have a duty to take guidance fully into account where it is published, but they are not bound by its contents and may deviate from it where there is a clear indication to do so. A guidance document may impose a duty on a health provider to fund the treatment and/or intervention.

Guideline

A wide-ranging recommendation dealing with the management of a disease condition. A guideline document does not impose a duty on a health provider to fund the treatment of the disease condition.

Health and Care Professions Council HCPC

 HCPC is the regulator for 16 health and care professions. It maintains a register of health and care professionals who meet the standards for training, professional skills, behaviour and health.

Independent prescriber (IP)

A professional who is registered on the appropriate statutory register for their professional group and (for non-doctors) against whose name is recorded an annotation signifying that they are qualified to prescribe medicines as an independent prescriber. A person responsible for the assessment of patients with undiagnosed conditions, and for decisions about the clinical management required including prescribing. They assume full accountability for the prescribing decisions they make. They may instruct another person to administer the medicines under the terms of a PSD. An independent prescriber may be a medical prescriber (doctor/dentist only) or a non-medical independent prescriber (nurse, pharmacist, optometrist, paramedic, physiotherapist,   podiatrist or radiographer). The non-medical independent prescribing professions between them do not have the same rights with regard to the use of mixed medicines, unlicensed medicines and controlled drugs. Medical prescribers have different rights to all non-medical prescribers. 

Knowledge and Skills Framework (KSF)

A framework that defines behaviours and actions within six dimensions; communication, personal and people development, health, safety and security, service improvement, quality and equality and diversity. 

Licensed medicine

A medicine with a valid marketing authorisation (product licence) in the UK.

Marketing authorisation (MA)

Formal approval by the MHRA to place a medicinal product on the UK market, formerly known as “product licence”. It defines the terms, conditions and/or patient groups that the product may be used for. Use of a medicine outside of the terms of the MA is known as ‘’off-label‟ use of the product.

Medicine administration record (MAR)

Commonly referred to as “drug chart”, MAR serves as a legal record of medicines administered to a patient by a health care professional. The MAR is a part of a patient's permanent record on their medical chart. 

Medical device

All products, except medicines, used in healthcare for the diagnosis, prevention, monitoring or treatment of illness or disability. Examples include x-ray and other imaging equipment, pacemakers, artificial joints, anaesthetic equipment, infusion equipment, beds, wheelchairs and surgical dressings. 

Medical prescriber

A doctor or dentist who can independently prescribe both licensed and unlicensed medicines, and who may instruct another health professional to administer such medicines to patients under the terms of a PSD.

Medicinal product

Any substance or article (but not instrument, apparatus or appliance) which is manufactured, sold, supplied, imported or exported, for use wholly or mainly in either or both of the following ways:

  • administered to one or more human beings (or animals) for a medicinal purpose
  • used as an ingredient, by a practitioner, pharmacy or hospital, in the preparation of a substance or article which is to be administered to one or more human beings for a medicinal purpose

Medicinal purpose

Any one or more of the following: treating or preventing disease, diagnosing or ascertaining the existence of disease, ascertaining a degree or extent of a physiological condition, contraception, inducing anaesthesia, otherwise preventing or interfering with the normal operation of a physiological function, whether permanently or temporarily, and whether by terminating, reducing, postponing, increasing or accelerating the operation of that function, or in any other way.

Medicine

A substance that claims to, or has the actual function of, treating or preventing disease in humans or animals.

Mixing

The combining of two or more medicinal products together for the purposes of administering them to meet the needs of a particular patient. Mixed medicines are unlicensed.

Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA)

The agency that regulates medicines, medical devices and blood components for transfusion in the UK.  MHRA is an executive agency, sponsored by the Department of Health. 

NHS

National Health Service.

NHS prescription charge

Tax paid by patients for medicines or other treatments prescribed for them by an NHS “appropriate practitioner” and supplied at NHS expense. Some patients are exempt from paying prescription charges and receive the medicines free of charge. Prescription charges are set by the Government and do not directly reflect the production costs and/or retail prices of the medicine.

National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE)

NICE works to improve health and social care through evidence-based guidance

Non-medical prescriber (NMP)

A nurse, pharmacist and some allied health professional groups who are registered on the appropriate statutory register for their professional group, and against whose name is recorded an annotation signifying they are permitted by the relevant law to prescribe medicines as either an independent and/or supplementary prescriber. The limits of their prescribing rights is determined by law and may not be the same for each professional group especially with regard to mixing medicines and controlled drugs.

Off-label medicines

Use of a medicine outside its licensed indications (as contained within the SPC). Off-label use only applies to medicines that are already licensed ie that hold a valid Marketing Authorisation.

Over-the-counter (OTC)

Description of a medicine that can be supplied without a written prescription from a variety of outlets, including self-selection without supervision, by a patient.

Pharmacy medicine (P)

Pharmacy medicine; medicinal product that is not a Prescription Only Medicine and is either:

not a medicinal product on a General Sale List, or  a product referred to in Regulation 8 of The Medicines (Sale or Supply)(Miscellaneous Provisions) Regulations (NI) 1980.

Patient Group Direction (PGD)

A written instruction for the supply or administration of a named medicine in a defined clinical situation to groups of patients who may not have been identified before presenting for treatment. In order to be valid, a PGD must meet specific legal criteria. This includes the requirements that only licensed medicines are included in a PGD, that the health professional (radiographer) named on the PGD is registered with the appropriate statutory regulator (HCPC), and that the supply and administration of the drugs listed in the PGD is not delegated to anyone else. PGDs tend to be used in hospital and primary care settings but are also valid in some other non-NHS clinical settings. PGDs can include medicinal products for use outside their licensed indications (“off-label”) if their use is exceptional and justified by best clinical practice. Off-label use applies to medicines that are already licensed. PGDs can neither be used for the administration of unlicensed products nor for the use of pharmacy-prepared products as these are not fully licensed.

Patient Specific Direction (PSD)

A prescription from a doctor, dentist or other independent/supplementary prescriber for a medicine to be administered to a named patient by another health professional. The patient must be individually identified on the PSD. The prescription must be signed and dated by the doctor/dentist or other independent prescriber. Unlicensed medicines may be administered under a PSD provided it has originated from a doctor or dentist. A PSD is not a standard proforma that is drawn up for a doctor to sign. This may be one way of indicating the desired prescription, but the doctor is free to amend or alter this in any way as they see fit as they will have accountability for any medicines prescribed. 

Patient Information Leaflet (PIL)

The Patient Information Leaflet (PIL) is the leaflet included in the pack with a medicine. It is written for patients and gives information about taking or using a medicine.

Prescribe

LEGAL: to request in writing, in the appropriate manner, the supply and administration of a Prescription Only Medicine for use by a named patient. Only ‘’appropriate practitioners‟ may prescribe. The Human Medicines Regulations 2012 define the professional groups classed as “appropriate practitioners‟. Radiographers are authorised as both supplementary and independent prescribers.

GENERAL: to authorise in writing, in the appropriate manner, the supply and administration of any medicinal product(s), for use by a named patient, at public expense.

LAY: to advise on the use of a product, especially by an authorised person or to recommend especially as a benefit.

Prescribing

Issuing prescriptions for the medical treatment of a single individual by an “appropriate practitioner‟. A pharmacist is legally required to be involved in the sale and/or supply of the medicine identified within a written prescription. Therefore “prescribing‟ is a process by which medicines are supplied to a patient involving at least two separate persons – the prescriber and the pharmacist.

Prescription

LEGAL: a written instruction by an appropriate practitioner for the supply and administration of the medicinal products listed within it. A written tool against which POMs may be supplied.

A prescription is issued by an  “appropriate practitioner‟ under or by virtue of the National Health Service Act 1977 (England)/the National Health Service (Scotland) Act 1978 / the Health and Personal Social Services (Northern Ireland) Order 1972.

Prescription Only Medicine (POM)

Such medicines may only be supplied and administered against a valid written “prescription‟.

Product Licence (PL)

Formal approval by the MHRA to place a medicinal product on the UK market. Now known as a “marketing authorisation”. Defines the terms, conditions and/or patient groups for which the product may be used. Use of a medicine outside  the terms of the PL is known as “off-label‟ use of the product.

Radiographer

A person who is registered on the relevant part of the HCPC register under article 5 of the Health Professions Order 2001 and entitled to practise using the protected titles of “radiographer‟, ”diagnostic radiographer” or  “therapeutic radiographer”.

Repeat prescribing

A partnership between a patient and a prescriber that allows the prescriber to issue duplicate prescriptions at agreed intervals without the patient having to consult the prescriber at each issue.

Repeatable prescription

A prescription which authorises a pharmacist to issue a medicine more than once (eg supply X medicine every month for six months).

Standard

A statement on the level of proficiency expected to be demonstrated by a person professing to hold a certain skill or ability. The standards for prescribing are set and regulated by the HCPC.

Standard Operating Procedure (SOP)

Detailed, written instructions to achieve uniformity of the performance of a specific function. SOPs ensures safety and consistency, it is set on repeated application of unchanged processes and procedures and on its documentation.

Summary of product characteristics (SPC)

(Previously known as the Data Sheet): Information available for individual licensed medicines, forming an integral part of the marketing authorisation (licence). It provides information for health professionals on how to use the medicinal product safely and effectively.

Supplementary prescriber (SP)

A professional who is registered on the appropriate statutory register for their professional group and against whose name is recorded an annotation signifying that they are qualified to prescribe medicines as a supplementary prescriber. A person responsible for the continuing care of patients who have been clinically diagnosed by an independent medical prescriber.

Supply

The activities undertaken, in response to formal orders, when medicines are issued to the place where they will be used, or supplied directly to the patient.

Traditional Herbal Registration (THR) number

MHRA registration scheme for herbal preparations that have been assured for safety, efficacy and quality, ie licensing for herbal preparations. Equivalent to a Product Licence for medicines.

To-take-out form (TTO)

The TTO (to take out) is a form that should be completed for all patients being discharged from hospital. It both summarises the patient's hospital stay for their general practitioner and acts as a prescription to order the drugs they need to take home with them.

Unlicensed medicine

A medicine that does not have a UK marketing authorisation.

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