Why Do Doctors Have Bad Handwriting Skills?: Have you ever struggled to read a doctor’s prescription and wondered why their handwriting is so sloppy? Doctors’ handwriting is sometimes used as a criterion for determining their level of medical expertise. According to legend, the sloppier a doctor’s handwriting is, the more experience they have in their area. If a person has poor handwriting, it is almost impossible for him or her to become a successful doctor. Many people believe that doctors with poor penmanship will be successful.
For a variety of reasons, doctors’ writing is truly awful. The fact that doctors are continually taking notes has long been blamed for their bad writing. You must pass numerous exams to become a qualified doctor. There’s more to the requirement for speedy writing than that.
They must practice for several years in their particular specialties, where they must develop the habit of quickly writing crucial information. Because all medical information is crucial, doctors must ensure that every vital point is recorded. They soon start writing bad handwriting without realizing it because of this demand for speed. So, in this article, we’ll look at why doctors’ handwriting is so bad.
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Table of Content
Why Many Doctors Have Bad and Sloppy Handwriting
1. They have to write a lot: Did you believe that doctors were just required to write your prescription? That isn’t the case. Doctors must write far more than any other profession throughout their careers.
As you may have seen, your doctor keeps track of every information you tell him as proof of your medical history. If it isn’t documented, it didn’t happen in the medical industry. Anything you discuss behind closed doors will require written documentation of your medical history.
Hundreds of documents to write out on the wards — discharge summaries, drug records, referral forms, x-ray slips, pathology slips… I believe you get the picture. On top of that, you’re always pressed for time. In a hospital, the workload is nearly always greater than you can handle. As a result, you begin to take shortcuts. Why sign anything in 5 seconds when you can do it in 5 milliseconds?
2. Jargon is to be blame: Bad handwriting is a result of the doctor’s jargon. Consider how tough it would be to write epididymitis without the aid of a spell-checker on a computer. This is only one example; there is so much technical jargon that it’s hard to recall all of the spellings. There’s also certain terminology that medical experts understand but may be unfamiliar to you.
In most cases, though, the pharmacist is also aware of what your doctor is talking about. Furthermore, some concepts that are obvious to medical professionals may leave you scratching your head. For example, QD stands for “one a day” in Latin, while TID stands for “three times a day.” Your pharmacist would understand exactly what your doctor was saying, but you’d dismiss it as chicken scratch.
3. Long and stressed day: Consider seeing 20 to 50 patients every day. Listening to their complaints, taking notes, and prescribing the appropriate medication for each of them. How tense could it possibly be? In addition to that, you have to deal with emergencies. As a result, lengthy days of writing result in a fatigued hand. By the end of the day, those strained hand muscles have deteriorated the handwriting.
Just like when you started writing your exam in the most beautiful handwriting and by the time you got to the last page, your handwriting was barely readable due to fatigue. Long days combined with a lot of writing equals a fatigued hand. If you’re handwriting for 10 to 12 hours a day, your hand just won’t be able to keep up. As those small hand muscles are strained, most doctors’ handwriting deteriorates over time.
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4. Doctors are in a rush: Doctors might slow down and relax their hands if they had more time to spend with each patient. However, because there are so many patients to see, doctors are usually hurrying from one to the next.
Doctors are more concerned with noting down all of the information rather than refining their writing because they have so little time. Doctors might be able to slow down and rest their hands if they could spend an hour with each patient. However, the reality is that most doctors are in a hurry.
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5. Gradual deterioration of their handwriting: A doctor handwriting gradually becomes a mangled imitation of its former self as a result of the time constraint and excessive volume. If a doctor already have poor handwriting, you’re in serious trouble. It’s possible that his handwriting will resemble a chicken scrawl. But there’s more to the myth that doctors have lousy handwriting than that:
How to read a doctor’s handwriting?
The handwriting of doctors is not legible enough for everyone to understand. It’s a common perception that doctors have sloppy handwriting. However, many doctors have excellent handwriting. Because of the enormous number of patients waiting in the hospital, most doctors write rapidly. However, the usage of medical vocabulary and abbreviations is the real reason why common people are unable to comprehend doctors’ prescriptions. Fortunately, patients do not need to be familiar with these abbreviations.
In the medical profession, medical terminology used to define an illness or drug are well-known. However, if you want to decipher a doctor’s written prescription, check for the initials of the medicine and the doses indicated. When prescribing drugs and doses for a patient, a doctor should never make a mistake. Even minor mistakes might hurt a patient’s health. Look for the medicine’s initials together with the dosage that needs to be taken.
Fortunately, pharmacists are skilled at deciphering doctors’ handwriting and recognizing potential errors in medicine kind or dosing.
How do pharmacists read doctors’ prescriptions?
To avoid any miscommunication between themselves and their patients, most doctors now offer digital prescriptions. However, printed prescriptions are still used on occasion. The handwriting on these prescriptions is frequently unreadable. If you give this written prescription to a pharmacist, however, they may be able to understand it. They then give you the appropriate medications and explain how to take them.
Search for keywords and recognizable marks made by the doctor in the prescription to better understand his or her illegible handwriting. Doctors are taught to write a few keywords or units for doses clearly and legibly. They use the abbreviated forms of several units rather than writing the whole word. Pharmacists are familiar with these brief forms and can read prescriptions quickly.
Even though electronic prescriptions are becoming more common, you should be able to read a doctor’s handwriting to avoid any mishaps. Doctors are instructed in medical school to indicate doses in such a way that patients may understand them quickly and without making mistakes. They are also trained not to jeopardize the patient’s health. There should be no ambiguity about the dosage that must be taken for the patient to receive the correct amount. Taking too much medicine can make it useless or even dangerous to the patient.
However, there must be a solution to the problem of poor handwriting; the risks are simply too great to ignore. For doctors, this entails looking at our handwriting and determining how it has changed from its prior state. If we can’t read it, we need to do something about it.
Some doctors, for example, employ capital letters to make their writing more legible. Electronic prescribing and medical notes are becoming increasingly frequent, and some clinics and hospitals are exploring system modifications to eliminate paper notes. Whatever the solution, we’re all in it together.
Edeh Samuel Chukwuemeka ACMC, is a Law Student and a Certified Mediator/Conciliator in Nigeria. He is also a Developer with knowledge in HTML, CSS, JS, PHP and React Native. Samuel is bent on changing the legal profession by building Web and Mobile Apps that will make legal research a lot easier.