Tag Archives: medical

Japan Word of the Day #73 – Shohousen (Prescription)


Today’s Word is: Shohousen (処方箋)

Shohousen is a medical prescription issued by hospitals, clinics, and doctors. In the past, prescription documents were rarely issued in Japan, but since the separation of pharmacists and physicians took place in 90’s, Japanese prescription system is strictly organized in a similar fashion as United States.

So when you go see a doctor in Japan, you’ll receive a prescription from the doctor’s office (usually a receptionist) when medication is needed. You can bring it to any pharmacy that’s convenient for you. Pharmacy is called yakkyoku (薬局). What you have to be careful is that a prescription expires in 4 days after it’s issued. If it’s past the due date, you’ll have to go back to the doctor and have it re-issued.

When you use a pharmacy for the first time, you will be asked if you have what’s called a medicine notebook (okusuri techou/お薬手帳). It’s a handy notebook you can get for free from any pharmacies, that records all your previous medication history. Each time you get medicine from a pharmacy, a pharmacist will write down what you were prescribed.

Some medicine notebook is character-themed, such as Hello Kitty

Some medicine notebook is character-themed, such as this Hello Kitty notebook.

This way, the next pharmacist who’ll be dispensing drug for you will have full knowledge of your medication history, helping him/her make much more accurate judgement on whether you should take the drug or not.

Since year 2000, carrying your medical notebook was mandatory. However, it was apparent that not everyone continues to do so. It’s easy to misplace it when you don’t see doctors often. From this year (2014), the regulation has changed so that for anyone who doesn’t need a pharmacist to write down new medication record on the notebook, you’ll get discount of 20 yen. It’s not much, but if you feel it’s unnecessary, you’ll save a little bit of money. Yet, you’ll still need be aware that a pharmacist can make the best decision when provided with accurate history of a patient.

Image source: Meding