Medication Order Entry / Fill Process PTCB Test Prep

How to Process a Medication Order!

Apr 12th, 2020
how to process medication order

Order Entry and Processing for the PTCB Exam

As pharmacy technicians, you need to know how to process a medication order. It’s not just the order that matters, but also the precision with which you complete it. There can, of course, be no errors in the medication order.

Most billing and profile errors occur during medication order processing.

As pharmacy technicians, it is legally incumbent upon you to know how to safely and accurately record patient data and to effectively process a medication order in the correct manner.

As with anything, it takes practice – often lots of it. But if that’s what’s needed to protect the public, then that’s the very minimum of what needs to be done. Unfortunately, over the years there have been many cases in which patient safety was compromised by errors during this stage.

On the PTCB exam, candidates can expect detailed questions on medication order entry. It’s important that you comprehensively study the course materials for this section and practice as many PTCB questions as possible to identify whether you are fully prepared.

Below, we review the steps that technicians need to make to successfully process a medication order.

How to Process a Medication Order

By implementing the following steps, the pharmacy technician reduces the likelihood of error. These steps include:

  • Technicians that need to pull up a patient profile should search for the patient by first entering their full surname, followed by the first letter of the patient’s first name. Identify the correct patient and confirm that selection by reviewing their date of birth.
  • Each time a prescription is filled, insurance details should be checked. It’s important that patients are billed the correct value and, because coverage can change, it’s essential that you verify this information.
  • Third, identify the prescriber through the same means as patient identification – namely, enter the prescriber’s surname in full, followed by the first letter of their first name. Accurate prescriber identification is important to avoid a potential audit, and to avoid any possible medication lapse on behalf of the pharmacist.
  • Next, pharmacy technicians should identify the medication through either the NDC code or through the drug name itself. The NDC is the official means through which medicines are identified; an 11-digit code where the first 5-digits represent the drug manufacturer; the following 4-digits representing the drug and strength; and the final 2-digits representing packaging size.
  • Technicians should enter the quantity of the drug to be dispensed to the patient. However, on the previous review of their insurance details, this quantity may change. For instance, coverage may specify that only 30-days supply of the drug can be dispensed.
  • Interpreting the prescription directions is next required. This involves a careful understanding of prescription terms and abbreviations and ensures that the patient receives the correct instructions. If this is improperly performed, it risks the patient taking the medication in the wrong manner which can harm their therapeutic outcome.
  • Next, pharmacy technicians should correctly enter the number of days supply of that medicine. This is easily done by dividing the number of tablets by the number of times a day the medicine is taken. For example, 42 tablets taken 3-times daily, is the equivalent of 14-days supply. It’s essential that the correct value is entered, otherwise, it may result in insurance rejection.
  • Legislation demands that technicians include the number of refills as stated on the prescription.
  • The expiration date should now be entered. This date can be found on the stock bottle. This is important for several reasons. You do not want the patient to take expired medicine. For example, tetracyclines – which are commonly used antibacterial drugs – taken in their expired form can cause Fanconi syndrome in affected patients.
  • Finally, technicians must process through insurance; the last stage in which the pharmacy is authorized to dispense the medicine to the patient.

By carefully implementing these ten steps, pharmacy technicians know how to process a medication order in a safe, effective, and legally compliant manner.

Take Home Message

It’s important to know how to process a medication order.

We have covered the 10 core steps. As you can see, the focus is always on patient safety, on the accuracy of the medicine being dispensed, and complying with insurance information to ensure that medicines are authorized to be dispensed.

Given how busy pharmacy technicians are, with the many daily tasks they juggle, it is perhaps no surprise that errors have happened. However, it’s important that technicians ensure that these errors do not happen.

The primary goal of a pharmacy technician is to ensure that patients receive the best therapeutic outcomes. Accurate medication order entry and processing is an important part of that goal.

If you would like to test your knowledge of medication order entry and processing, register to become a member of PTCB Test Prep today – your complete guide to helping you maximize your result on exam day.

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PTCB Test Prep Author


Elaine Walker

Elaine joined PTCB Test Prep in 2017, currently serving as the lead product development manager overseeing both course development and quality improvement. Mrs. Walker is a graduate of California State University and has worked as a pharmacy technician for over twenty years – with particular interests in pediatric pharmacy, extemporaneous compounding, and hospital pharmacy. Over the past 8-years, she has helped prepare thousands of students for the PTCB examination.