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Doctors see writing on the wall

- MCI move to bury illegibly written slips to help patients buy right drugs

Doctors in the city have supported the Medical Council of India’s suggestion to write prescriptions in capital letters, as it would only safeguard the patients.

The Medical Council of India (MCI) has recently approved a draft notification, which will need to be approved by the Union health ministry for turning into a rule.

Rajiv Ranjan Prasad, president, state chapter of Indian Medical Association, said: “I welcome the decision because it will ensure that patients get right drugs. At present, it is a common practice among doctors that they write prescriptions in such a bad manner that people find difficulty in reading those — be it the patients or the chemists.”

Prasad added that prescription writing was part of MBBS curriculum but as doctors are hardly serious about this, the MCI was forced to come up with this. “In the MBBS curriculum, in pharmacology paper, students are taught to write prescriptions in clean handwriting.”

Orthopaedic surgeon Dilip Kumar Sinha (67) admitted that his patients ask him many times about the medicines he had prescribed to them as they were unable to read it properly.

Nishant Kumar, a chemist at SP Verma Road, said only 40 per cent doctors write clean prescriptions. “Whenever we come across some prescription which is not readable, we ask them to go the drug store which is nearby the doctor’s clinic who has prescribed the drug,” he said.

Ophthalmologist Ranjan Kumar Akhauri, however, said: “Doctors do not write prescriptions in illegible writing intentionally. To avoid any confusion, I give my patients printed prescriptions,” he said.

Ajay Kumar Sinha, a consultant interventional cardiologist with Paras HMRI Hospital, said even before the MCI’s decision he was into the habit of writing prescriptions in all caps. “People make a mistake in reading prescription quite frequently but only doctors are not to be blamed for this. There are people at the drug stores also who are not trained enough in medicines,” said Sinha.

The chemists said they get prescriptions at their shops, which are hardly legible. “There are only 10 per cent doctors whose handwriting is not readable. Once a person came to my shop. He was supposed to be given medicines for mental disorder but instead of that he was given antibiotic,” said Vinod Kumar, a chemist at a shop near Dinkar Golambar.

Avinash Kumar, a chemist at drug store near Rajendra Nagar, however, revealed the truth that whenever he comes across some unreadable prescriptions, he works according to his experience. “If we are unable to read the text on prescription but if we are able to read the first two to three letters, we guess the name of the drugs, which have been prescribed to the patient. So, we work on our instinct and experience,” said Avinash.

Patients and their attendants also admitted that they were not able to read prescriptions on several occasions. Jitendra Kumar Rai, who visited a child specialist at Rajendra Nagar for his ailing son Shubham on Monday, said: “The doctor has written the prescription in cursive writing. So I can’t read it,” said Rai.