If You Can't Read Your Prescription, How Can Your Pharmacist?

As much as we’d like to believe that pharmacists have an X-man-style power that allows them to correctly read the worst handwriting imaginable… they don’t.

From the WSJ Health Blog:

Roughly one-third of the physicians who took in part in a recent survey said bad handwriting is the leading cause of medical misscommunication. The online survey was conducted in October 2007, by Thomson Healthcare, a health information company.

Kaveh Safavi, chief medical officer for Thomson, says it’s encouraging that so many docs now acknowledge that bad handwriting is a real issue. In the past, academics would say that poor handwriting causes trouble, and docs would fire back that “people who need to understand it can read it,” Safavi says. Now, he says, physicians are more inclined to do something about it.

Bad handwriting can lead to serious medical errors. We’re reminded of the pregnant women whose prenatal vitamins were substituted for a cancer drug—causing her to miscarry.

If you can’t read your prescription, why not ask your doctor to spell the full name of the drug for you so that you can easily double check that the pharmacist gave your the correct meds?

Docs’ Bad Handwriting No Longer a Bad Joke [WSJ Health Blog]

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