The final Monday of each May brings us Memorial Day,
Every year thousands of people go to their doctors looking for help. The doctor diagnoses and pulls out his pad to prescribe some medication. Here’s where things go bad. In a rush, the doctor writes out the prescription. They scribble out something that looks like complete gibberish and hands it off to the patient. A happy patient drops off the prescription at their pharmacy, where the pharmacist can’t read the doctor’s handwriting. The amount looks off, or an abbreviation makes no sense. But the pharmacist perseveres and tries to decode the horrific handwriting.
Thanks to the sloppiness of doctors’ handwriting over 7000 people each year die and over 1.5 million are injured. That’s more than:
The number of U.S. citizens killed by terrorists.
The number killed texting while driving.
The number of people who starve to death in the U.S.
The number of drowning deaths in the U.S.
The number of people killed by police in the U.S.
The unreadable writing can lead to improper dosages or medications being administered, leading to easily preventable injuries and deaths. Pharmacists report struggling to read prescriptions, and taking years to become familiar enough with the deciphering process to do it effectively.
Of course with new technology, doctors are starting to send prescriptions online or printed, but despite the fact that 85% of pharmacies can receive digital prescriptions, most simply don’t use that capability. The choice to go old school can have serious consequences though, so if you’re at the doctor’s and see him pull out the old prescription pad, ask him to print you off a copy instead.