Illegible handwriting of doctors is a big issue for both the patients as well as pharmacists as it carries the risk of misinterpretation.
However, you may have noticed that the bad handwriting issue is practically universal.
This is not to say that all doctors have unreadable handwriting. However, multiple studies by the open-access medical journal BMJ show that only 24 percent of doctors get a good or excellent rating for their handwriting and 37 percent of doctors get a poor rating for their handwriting.
According to the website Faculty of Medicine for Doctors and Medical Students, doctors’ sloppy handwriting kills thousands of patients every year.
“It could be that the doctor is focusing on the diagnosis and medication more than on writing the prescription,” argues Keya Shivadey, specialist Gynaecologist and Obstetrician at Aster Medical Centre in Dubai.
According to National Academies of Science’s Institute of Medicine (IOM) Medication mistakes kill more than 7,000 people every year, largely because of doctors’ often-illegible handwriting on prescriptions.
Well, a doctor explained the reason for this on Quora and it does make sense!
Here are excerpts:
I got first prize in handwriting competition in school. But, now. Holy lord. During exam, one can call the first page of my sheet as etched by a craftman. A damn perfect cursive writing. Beautifully written words. Later, even I can’t read my own stuff.
We have to complete long answers in minimum time. Anxiety kills us. We are not given any choices in exams. We have to write everything.
Trust me, it is not what it seems to be in a non medico exam. So, we develop poor handwriting. Damn our exams.
Recent guidelines from the Medical Council of India (MCI) mandate that doctors must write prescriptions legibly and in capital letters. They must also furnish a complete and detailed prescription to ensure that there is no chance of incorrect treatment. Although a good move, it is hardly being adhered to by practitioners.