Doctors must write prescriptions in capital letters: HC

Illegible scrawls composed by doctors create unnecessary nuisance for patients, pharmacists, police, prosecutors and judges who are bound to deal with such medical reports

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Last Updated on May 29, 2022 by The Health Master

CUTTACK: The Orissa High Court has asked the state government “to issue, if feasible” a circular making it mandatory for doctors – both government and private – to write prescriptions for patients in capital letters.

The directive came when the court was granting interim bail to a prisoner to attend to his ailing wife on Monday and the HC expressed its anguish over the illegibility of medical prescriptions submitted before it.

In his order, Justice SK Panigrahi, Judge of Orissa HC, said, “Illegible scrawls composed by doctors create unnecessary nuisance for patients, pharmacists, police, prosecutors and judges who are bound to deal with such medical reports.”

The court expected prescriptions of physicians, OPD slips, post-mortem report, injury report etc. to be legible and fully comprehensible.

The HC said it is imperative that the entire physician community makes a conscious effort to write prescriptions in good handwriting preferably in capital letters.

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“A medical prescription ought not to leave any room for ambiguity or interpretation. The illegible or significantly less legible than average handwriting impedes understanding of prescriptions and stands as a barrier to proper comprehension leading to, among others, innumerable medical complications,” the HC said.

If considered from the issue from the patient’s perspective, Justice Panigrahi said illegible handwriting can delay treatment and lead to unnecessary tests and inappropriate doses which, in turn, can result, at times, in fatal consequences.

The Medical Council of India (MCI) had issued a regulation in 2016 which mandated that “Every physician should prescribe drugs with generic names and preferably in capital letters and he/she shall ensure that there is a rational prescription and use of drugs”.

Justice Panigrahi said the court deems it fit to request the Chief Secretary to examine the feasibility of issuing appropriate circulars, in consultation with the Medical Council of India and the Central Government, to implement the directions as per the 2016 notification of MCI.

“Further, appropriate steps may also be taken to create awareness among the medical professionals, involved in medico-legal cases, to record their observations and comments in a legible manner,” Justice Panigrahi said.

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