Get the most out of your PRN orders
- By: Teresa Pun
PRN (also known as “pro re nata” also known “as needed”) orders, I think, were designed to let house officers sleep through the night—not that there's anything wrong with that. Common PRN orders include paracetamol (acetaminophen) for pain, lorazepam for insomnia, and docusate sodium for constipation. One resident also included a variety of routes of administration in his PRN orders to avoid being woken up by the nurse at 0300 because she couldn't give the patient morphine by mouth and needed him to OK an intravenous order for morphine.
A problem with the PRN order is that once it's entered, it tends to go unnoticed by the healthcare staff. New orders are flagged immediately, entered into the system, and put into practice, but PRN orders are just there, wallflowers in the background. PRN orders are designed to help patients only if a certain situation arises. So the onus is, unfairly,