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From: "Steve Harris" <>
Subject: Re: Why don't doctors write legible prescriptions?
Date: Thu, 26 Apr 2001 14:32:35 -0600

"jtnews" <> wrote in message
> Why don't doctors write legible prescriptions?
> Practically everytime I have visited the doctor
> to get a prescription, the piece of paper with
> the prescription in the doctor's handwriting
> is hardly even legible.
> Can't they just use a computer
> and print one out?

The era of handwritten scrips is disappearing. For one thing, everyone wants
the computer to "see" the scrip in order to do various statistical things
for the pharmacy, the HMO, the government, your accountant come tax time,
etc, etc. Plus look up doses and interactions. And snitch on you to the
State and Feds for funny controlled substance prescribing. And notify the
drug company so it can tell if its reps are doing their jobs. Everybody
wants to see that prescription.

In truth, prescriptions aren't as illegible as you think. If you know the
drug names and the right doses and the Latin abbreviations, it's a lot
easier. Then the pharmacist only gets fooled by things like Pr----c 20 mg vs
Pr---c 20 mg, and is that Prilosec or Prozac? Fortunately not an error that
usually causes much damage, although a few people find that their stomach
pain is worse but they are less depressed about it.

If you're looking for somebody to blame, blame hidebound tradition. Latin
abbreviations are as much stupidity as Roman numerals.  And our "cursive"
writing system, taught to children so they don't make blots by lifting a
quillpen off the sheet of paper (you think I'm kidding, don't you), is an
anachronism and a completely waste of time. It only converts block printing
into illegible crap, particularly as written by men. Female 4th grade
teachers who think they are teaching "penmanship" are really teaching
"calligraphy," and doing it badly at that. If they spent that time teaching
typing, the world would be an infinitely better place.  But it's easier to
relocate graveyards than change K12 curricula.


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