E-prescription is an electronic equivalent of the current prescription printed on a sheet of paper. From January 8, 2020, physicians are required to issue electronic prescriptions only. In order to buy prescribed drugs, a patient should provide a four-digit code received by e-mail or text message, or provide an informative printout to the pharmacist. Paper prescriptions are issued only in strictly defined situations.
A complex central IT system common for the entire country is behind the term “e-prescription”. The system allows collection and transmission of data on medications prescribed to the patient in such a way that it is possible to fill an electronic prescription in any pharmacy throughout Poland.
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What data does the e-prescription contain?
An e-prescription is an electronic document issued by a doctor or other medical professional that is visible on the computer screen in the doctor's office software. This document is not printed but is made available by the IT system to the pharmacy where the patient decides to buy the drug. The patient may ask the doctor for an information printout about the prescription or request a .pdf file to an e-mail address.
The e-prescription contains the same data as the previous paper prescription, i.e.:
- name and quantity of the prescribed drug,
- composition of the prescription drug,
- date of issue of the prescription,
- details of the prescribing doctor,
The e-prescription may also contain information about the indicated date of medical checkup, which was a piece of information previously not available in printed prescription forms.
The e-prescription contains a special 4-digit code that will allow the pharmacy to identify the document in the system and dispense the drug.
Patient Online Account
Patient Online Account (IPK) is a free internet application available at pacjent.gov.pl.The patient has access to:
- e-prescription services (notifications about issued e-prescriptions, the possibility of receiving an e-prescription from a doctor or other person authorized to issue prescriptions as part of continuing treatment, without the need for a personal visit),
- history of their visits, which took place under the financing of the National Health Fund
and the patient has the option of allowing another person to access their medical data.
An account in IKP is set up automatically at the first login to the application, without any additional registration. To log in, you need to have a Trusted Profile (more information at obywatel.gov.pl).
In addition, it is possible to access the received e-prescriptions through the eRecepta service, which is available in the mObywatel smartphone application. With it, you can download, view, and fill received e-prescriptions in a pharmacy. The mObywatel application is available for free download in Google Play and AppStore.
How do I get my prescription filled?
In order to fill the prescription, it is necessary to get identified it in the IT system. There are several ways to fill your prescription:
- You can show the pharmacist the code from the information printout received from the doctor.
- Enter the 4-digit access code received via SMS along with the PESEL number of the person to whom the prescription is issued.
- You can show the pharmacist the code from e-prescription information received by e-mail.
- You can use the eRecepta service in the mObywatel mobile application. Display the e-prescription available there and provide the PESEL number of the person for whom the prescription was issued. Internet access is required to use the service. It is also possible to access the e-prescription offline, in which case it must be downloaded as a .pdf file.
NOTE! In order to receive an e-prescription by SMS or e-mail, you must first activate the Patient Online Account, and then in the "My Account" tab, enter your phone number and/or e-mail address.
How long is an e-prescription valid?
The validity of the e-prescription depends on various factors. The electronic prescription is valid:
- 7 days from the date of issue, if it is a prescription for an oral or injectable antibiotic (unless otherwise indicated by the person issuing the prescription),
- 30 days from the date of issue for drugs used to treat dependencies and for psychotropic drugs,
- 120 days from the date of issue for immunological preparations manufactured individually for the patient,
- 365 days from the date of issue for drugs used for chronic treatment,
- 30 days from the date of issue for all other drugs and agents (unless otherwise specified by the person issuing the prescription).
It is possible to receive an e-prescription with a "from day" date, which may be postponed.
It should be remembered that a doctor, dentist, medical assistant, and senior medical assistant can prescribe the patient the amount of the drug needed for use for a maximum of 360 days, calculated on the basis of the given dosage, on a single e-prescription. On the other hand, nurses and midwives can issue e-prescriptions for the quantity of medicine sufficient for 180 days of treatment.
The exceptions are drugs with strong psychotropics or narcotics belonging to the group I-N or II-P - e-prescription for these drugs can be issued for a maximum of 90 days of use according to the given dosage.
However, regardless of who issued the prescription, the pharmacy can dispense the patient with the amount of medicine needed for 180 days of use (calculated on the basis of the administered dosage).
NOTE! In the case of e-prescriptions issued for 365 days, if the patient reports to the pharmacy 30 days after the date of issue, the prescription will be processed excluding the days of use that have already passed from these dates. It simply means that the dispensable amount will be reduced by the amount, calculated on the basis of the dosage, that would have been used over the time already elapsed from the date the prescription was issued. If the patient refills the prescription "in parts" (i.e., he intends to buy the entire prescribed amount of the drug during several visits to the pharmacy), the reduction is only made at the first partial filling of the prescription.
Currently, it is not possible to fill an electronic prescription abroad. In this case, a paper cross-border prescription should be issued (a prescription issued by a doctor in one of the EU or EFTA countries and filled in another Member State).
Paper form prescriptions
A doctor may issue a traditional paper prescription in the following cases:
- as part of target import - importing medicinal products and foodstuffs for particular nutritional uses from abroad, which do not have a marketing authorization in Poland, and are necessary to save the patient's health or life,
- cross-border prescriptions,
- prescriptions pro auctore - for the doctor who issues the prescription,
- prescriptions pro familiae - for people close to the doctor issuing the prescription, i.e. for his spouse, ascendant, descendant, or siblings,
- prescriptions for people with undetermined identity,
- lack of access to the system, which may be related to, for example, a system failure or lack of Internet access.
Advantages of e-prescription
The advantages of e-prescriptions include:
- availability - the e-prescription is always available in the system, so if the patient loses the printout from the doctor, this is not a reason to worry (the original prescription is stored in the system for 5 years), in addition, it is possible to buy the drug in another pharmacy, without the need to receive a copy of the prescription,
- legibility - so far there have been cases where the pharmacist had a problem with reading the handwrite or the prescription was issued incompletely - thanks to e-prescriptions, such situations no longer occur
- e-prescription can be obtained after consulting a doctor by phone or during an e-visit, without the need for the patient to come to the office,
- the patient does not have to go to the pharmacy in person to fill the prescription, it can be done by a close person, provided that they have the PESEL number of the person for whom the drug was prescribed,
- safety - with e-prescriptions, the risk of dispensing the wrong drug is reduced to a minimum, and information on drug dosage is always available in the Patient Online Account
- with an e-prescription, you can buy cheaper substitutes for the originally prescribed medicine,
- for chronically ill patients, a doctor may prescribe a prescription for up to a year,
- if the e-prescription contains any errors - they can be corrected by the pharmacist or, at his request, by the doctor who had issued the prescription.