Odisha High Court Advises Doctors to Write Readable Prescriptions

Taking into account the repeated misinterpretation between medicines prescribed and medicine given because of bad handwriting, the Odisha high court (HC) has advised doctors operating in the state’s government-run hospitals and private healthcare institutes to write the name of drugs in capital letters. The prescriptions should be such that the patient and the medicine store staff can readily understand the names of each medicine, their doses, strength, and also the regularity of use, said the court.

While casting off the bail application of Krushna Pada Mandal, who is accused under Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act, 1985; case, the HC stated the issue of handwriting misunderstanding. Physicians must take the extra work and make conscious efforts to write prescriptions in good handwriting, preferably in capital letters, said Justice SK Panigrahi.

“While there could be some good justifications for sloppy handwriting (by doctors) due to heavy work pressure, long working hours, writer’s cramp and due to adverse the patient-doctor ratio in the country at large and also in Odisha, the medical professionals should protect themselves by exercising this basic care and caution from the looming threat of allegations of medical negligence. Perhaps, the capital letters could ensure proper visibility to the prescriptions and will remove the guesswork and related inconveniences. The digital era could also throw open several options to make prescriptions and the diagnosis more patient-friendly,” Justice Panigrahi said while granting bail to Mandal.

Interim bail was granted to Mandal, as he was seeking to take care of his wife, who is suffering from gynaecological, cardiovascular and haematological complications.

“The objective of such notification is that writing names of medicine in capital letters ensures that doctors, who have poor running handwriting, can compensate for their deficiency by writing in capital letters. Appropriate steps may be taken to create awareness among the medical professionals, involved in medico-legal cases, to record their observations and comments legibly,” the court concluded.

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