Personal Views

Prescribing by numbers

BMJ 1995; 310 doi: (Published 14 January 1995) Cite this as: BMJ 1995;310:135
  1. John Trowell

    When I first went into practice 70% of all our prescriptions came out of 12 numbered stock bottles in the dispensary. Each bottle was a different colour but they all had a fascinating clarity so that the sunlight coming in through the window and shining through the bottles made brilliant patches of light on the ceiling and walls as our dispenser went about her work.

    Shortly after joining the practice I dared to ask her what the bottles contained. I did not know at that stage that she was the most formidable of all the members of the practice, a doctor's daughter with a degree. She told me that it was my duty to decide which bottle to prescribe for each patient and hers to decide what to put into the bottle.

    By long tradition each bottle was used for a certain system, or …

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