Sunday, May 20, 2007

Writing Bad Prescriptions

OnthePharm has a good post about doctors with such bad handwriting that it is hard to make out their prescriptions.

Unfortunately, these are my "prescriptions" they are making fun of. But they weren't really prescriptions, they were notes from my Poetry Class, where I had to write haikus.

Here's the first haiku (above)... I hope you like it. To see the others, go here (comment #12 I think).
Scrooge 1 IQ say Lassie.
Yo, smile, Poog Pro.
And FIFO mail.


Rach said...

Haikus, eh, Roy? Were you writing them in the middle of the night too?

On a serious note, I find it interesting that our local by-law officers have been mandated to use computer-type items to write out parking tickets, which are then printed out on a mini-printer. Too many citizens were having their parking tickets cancelled because the officer's handwriting was illegible. But yet, many doctors can still write illegible Rx's... I refer to my favorite ER episode where Benton writes a script for a stool-softener (or anti-hemmorhoid pill) and the pharmacist dispenses some sort of cardiac drug.

Anonymous said...

When I have my pharmacist hat on and get "artistic" prescriptions, I take it to mean that by writing in hieroglyphics the doctor must be granting me poetic license to give out whatever I feel like :D

Usually it can be deduced by using clues like strength/quantity/number of repeats, asking the patient, looking at the patient (hmmm he does look like he might have high blood pressure...), looking at their past history or calling the doctor (my favourite response to that was when the doctor asked me to fax him the script so he could see, then admitted that he couldn't read it either). But probably about once a week, it won't be possible to contact the prescriber until the next day... or later... which is really not acceptable.

I have just carried out some time trials (using highly sophisticate methods - a piece of scrap paper and the timer in my phone), and on average it took less than three seconds to print a drug name. It might take another second to print the strength. It probably takes at least half that to scrawl the same information.

I'm not having a go at anyone (I will be a doctor in 2.5 years time and I'll be the one getting phone calls to ask if my script pad has been stolen by a 7 year old - my writing is not pretty but it's legible!) - but it's something I feel strongly about because illegible hand writing is both a pain in the butt for pharmacists and downright dangerous for patients.

I guess the way I see it is that if you examine a patient and use your findings, your clinical knowledge and your relationship with the patient to prescribe a particular treatment for them, it's crazy to then jeopardise that treatment by putting some random marks on a prescription that could be a shopping list or a birthday invitation or a new chapter that you've written for the Gospel of John!

I could keep ranting, however I think 5+ paragraphs of that is enough :p. I do challenge any doctors who are prone to such behaviour to give printing a try - just the drug name and strength is fine to begin with. I am fairly certain that your schedule will not blow out, no-one will think that you are less of a doctor, and if your patients get the wrong medication it's the pharmacist's fault!

Anonymous said...

I think that the printing idea is a great one and will be implemented as soon as the next class graduates from Med School. The reason? Every person I am around that is age 24 and under, prints. At first, I thought no one was taught script, but found out that computer literate younger generation kids have let script go the way of wisdom teeth. It is not needed in their world. All thank you notes and letters are done via the internet.
I thought this a sad loss, but now I am very happy. I don't want to be overdosed or given the wrong meds when I am a Sr. Citizen.

DrivingMissMolly said...

In my heady days of being a pharmacy tech, I remember these gloriously "challenging" rxs.

We'd pass them around to all the techs and pharmacists to see who could decipher the writing!

When I first saw this title, Roy, I thought you were writing about forgered prescriptions!

Pharmacists are awesome. I worked with one who could sniff out forgeries. He was AWESOME!!

Lily, who is worried about this blog and wondering if you're going to password protect it or close it and needs reassurance.

Dinah said...

I don't understand the poem

Dinah said...

We have not discussed closing the blog, and we have not had any problems. I think the fact that we're not anonymous helps (well, I'm not anonymous)--No one is saying anything here that we'd be troubled to have made public. Oh, hey, We made it public.
Hoping I won't end up eating my words, but I greet everyone I meet with "I Have a Blog".
Even "deep cover Roy" surprised me recently at a professional event when I heard him say to a group of people, "I have a blog." No more deep cover.

Anonymous said...

You just have to follow the trail of clues he has left to figure out Roy's identity.

DrivingMissMolly said...


I hope you're kidding. Please don't ruin this for us.

Dinah, follow the link. The "haiku's" are made up of words, numbers, etc. that Roy sees in the scripts on first glance.


Anonymous said...

Not kidding, but I won't spoil it for you. Just find his twin/alter ego. He has one running around who writes in the same style, has the same job, kid, appears at the same conferences and a few more personal details. If you listen closely to podcasts, not necessarily with an ear open to the topic, and if you follow the paper trail you will find him on your own.

Gerbil said...

I think prescribing providers should have to take a penmanship course during their training. It could be like architecture school, where everyone learns how to print in exactly the same style.

(It was quite a blow to my seven-year-old mind to learn that all my dad's friends, all of them architects, have the same handwriting as he does.)

DrivingMissMolly said...


If he turns out to be "The Last Psychiatrist" I'm gonna freak!


DrivingMissMolly said...

I don't need to know who he is to enjoy the blog.

It's childish for you to come on here to try to make trouble.

I regret giving you the attention that I have already.


Anonymous said...

I have come to the right playground.


Sarebear said...

I liked this 'cast, although of course it was listened to after dd was in bed. My hubby listens too; I have it play from my puter speakers, although I always have to turn them waaaay up and then my windows and also player volume up to get it at a good level (I do not need to do this for other things or other 'casts).

Anyway, interesting stuff. I feel for those who have such difficult struggles; I struggle with so much of what I feel are basic things about trying to be a human being, but struggling w/gender issues, identity, medical parts of it, etc. . . . that's about as fundamental as you can get.

Sarebear said...

woops I posted my 'cast 21 comment on the wrong dang post.