A PHILIPPINE study found that the illegible handwriting of doctors in prescriptions not only makes it difficult for patients to read but may also cause medical errors.
Researchers from the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City, found that 28 percent of patients from public and private hospitals in the city could not read their doctors’ prescriptions well, which had led to medical consequences such as improper dosage of medication, and even death.
The errors were mostly made because of misinterpretation of abbreviations written on the prescriptions.
“Common medication errors cover the writing of prescriptions, transcribing these prescriptions, and administering the medications… majority are attributed to the writing [which]… is rooted mainly [on]the illegible handwriting of the doctors,” the researchers explained in their study.
Meanwhile, they also found that doctors, regardless of their specialization, have similar handwritings, and that pharmacists were more likely to interpret their handwriting than patients from different age groups.
In addition, the poor handwriting of the doctors was commonly attributed to when they are in a rush, when they are doing their rounds during peak hours or when they are fatigued.
The researchers recommended that a program should be established to train doctors to write legibly on prescriptions, and that abbreviations should be avoided to prevent more confusion and problems.
Computerizing of prescriptions was also recommended.
The study ““Assessment of the legibility of the handwriting in medical prescriptions of doctors from public and private hospitals in Quezon City, Philippines” was published by the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development.
JACQUELINE BOUVIER ARIAS