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Pharmacy technicians play an instrumental role in dispensing prescriptions to patients. Though pharmacists are responsible for many specialized functions in a pharmacy, technicians perform the bulk of data entry for medication prescriptions. Pharmacy technicians apply their specialized knowledge of drug names, dosages, generic equivalents and SIG codes to translate a doctor’s handwritten directions on a prescription pad to the neat and informative labels on a prescription vial. In addition, insurance companies rely on the accuracy of pharmacy technicians’ data entry to accurately process prescription claims.
Locate the patient in the pharmacy computer system. If the patient is new, collect all necessary information and create a new profile.
Read over the prescription and ensure that the doctor’s directions are clear. Clarify any uncertainties with the pharmacist in charge on your shift.
If further clarification is needed, call the doctor’s office or have the pharmacist do so if required by state law.
Locate the appropriate drug in the pharmacy’s stock and double-check the dosing and drug name.
Perform any necessary mathematical conversions for dosage units and calculate the number of days supplied by the medication.
Translate any SIG codes on the prescription, such as BID or PRN, into natural language, and type directions accurately and concisely into the pharmacy’s computer system.
Double-check your data entry, paying special attention to drug name, dosage, frequency, quantity and refills.
Submit the prescription for third-party processing and pharmacist approval.
Memorizing drug names and common dosages helps streamline the data entry process for pharmacy technicians.
Doctors are notorious for illegible handwriting, but with practice, it becomes much easier to decipher prescriptions.
Errors in data entry can have potentially life-threatening consequences for a pharmacy patient. Be conscientious of your work and always be on the lookout for mistakes.
Jane Schmidt has worked in editing since 2003. She served as an editorial assistant of a literary journal and worked with friends to start and write for a community paper. Schmidt received her Bachelor of Arts in design studies and is pursuing a Master of Public Health from The Ohio State University.