When I was 14 years old, I was in charge of my school's ( Kendriya Vidyalaya , Calicut ) manuscript magazine-- for my writing and art combine, was indeed the best in school. After getting bored of this tedious job, I asked for a writing assistant. So I was given one, whose handwriting was excellent.
In between the guy ( or was it a gal? - let it be !) told me that he wanted to be a doctor . My knee jerk reaction was to tell him " OK, then very soon your writing is gonna be horrible -- so write well when you have this chance , for posterity!"
Much later in life I have seen some medical prescriptions which this yester-year assistant of mine, made as a respected senior doctor. IT WAS AN ILLEGIBLE CHICKEN SCRATCH-- not surprising at all!
So why do the doctor's make their handwriting deliberately bad? Only their prescriptions are illegible, rest everything else they write , are absolutely legible and clear.
Let me make a statement here-- THE DOCTORS PRESCRIPTION IS THE FRUIT OF HIS FEW MINUTES EXAMINING YOU. IF THIS FRUIT IS NO GOOD, YOU ARE NOT IN THE SAFE ZONE.
Now let me digress--
26 years ago, my ship was at sea and I was asleep. My wife shook me awake at 2 AM. " Get up, somebody is literally hammering our door. I can hear lot of voices too."
I immediately got up , put on my robe and opened the office door. My apartment had 4 rooms, a pantry and a washroom, being a huge Swedish Built tanker.
What I saw stunned me-- I could see almost the entire ship's complement in my alleyway-- about 55 of them, -- all looking frightened .
Then my attention shifted to some movement on the floor, and I saw a sailor writhing in pain , rolling around .
Immediately I asked the Bosun " What is wrong with him?"
The Bosun said " I don't know, but he is in great pain !"
Then I asked " Who is is cabin mate ?"
A sailor stepped forward. I asked him the same question.
He also said he does NOT know. So I asked him to think back, of any unusual conversation during the day. He said " Yes, he told me while having morning tea that he took too long time to pass the usual routine urine "
Immediately I came to me bed room and told my wife, to go to Chief Engineers cabin. Then I scooped the writhing sailor on the floor, in my hands and placed him in my bath tub, and removed his pants.
This was a huge tub , meant for 150 kilo Scandinavian giants , and myself and my wife used to take bath together, those days.
I opened the hot water to keep his waist below water level, and told him to relax and piss into the tub when he is ready. By the time I finished telling him, I could see a yellow trickle gushing out from his prick.
Seeing him smiling , I asked him " Is there any more pain?"
He said " All pain has disappeared " .
So I scooped him in my arms, nude, alongwith his pyjamas -- and took him to my door and slid him on the floor and said " All of you, FO, back to sleep, don't come back again!".
This happy but embarrassed sailor was immediately trying to puts his pyjamas back on, before my wife came back from the Chief Engineers cabin.
You should have seen the awed faces of my crew. For here was a man about to die in severe pain, -- the Captain takes him in to his room , tells his wife to leave the cabin el pronto, shuts the door, and after 3 minutes opens the door again and slides down nay curls ( like the Canadian ice game ) a nude, wet and smiling guy .
Later myself and my wife looked for about 10 minutes , hard by shining a torch trough the yellow water in the white tub, if we can see the small urethra or urinary tract blocking stone, and we saw nothing-- strange! The sailor was OK till he got off the ship after 4 months.
This is how reputations are earned at sea-- it takes 3 or 4 decades to build a reputation - BUT-- you are only as good as your last innings ( unlike Tendulkar ) . Reputations crash in just 3 seconds. One first foot failure or one grounding or one sailor's death --everything carefully built over decades , comes crashing down.
Imagine if this same man was in any place in Kerala, say at 5 PM. His wife makes a call to any doctor, begging him to come fast or alteast give some advise on phone -- what do you think will be the net result-- we all know it.
Now even if his wife takes him to the hospital , what do you think the learned doctor will do? Be frank, doctors!
LET ME TELL YOU SOMETHING TODAY, THE INTENTION OF THE DOCTOR YOU GO TO IS VERY IMPORTANT.
You have a severe life and death condition --and the doctor you go to takes his pen and "chicken scratches" a prescription which neither you , nor the licenced pharmacist in the Chemists store , is unable to read-- you know how much the doctor cares about you.
The handwriting of doctors who handle soiled currency notes from poor patients directly , counting it , giving change back and putting the moolah into his table drawer are the worst. The doctors who get a fixed salary from the hospital have slightly better handwriting.
But BAD handwriting all of them do have.
What follows is NOT conjecture--it is an informed opinion. I have consulted hundreds of medical shop ( chemist store ) pharmacists and medical representatives.
More than 100000 ( one lakh ) patients die due to illegible doctors handwriting every year in India.
At least 20 lakh patients health is irreversibly damaged due to side effects of overdose or wrong medicines.
Why does not IMA take note of this shocking state of affairs ?
When more than 20000 pharmaceutical generic names and brands are available, why are the doctors so callous.
Have you ever seen a doctor looking into a pharmaceutical pill directory or almanac to check out the actual spelling of the tablets and injection, he prescribes. His ego prevents him from doing so. He wants his patient to think he knows all these thousands of pill generic names.
IF ANY DOCTOR CLAIMS HE KNOWS ALL THE SPELLINGS OF OBSCURE DRUGS , HE CAN BE EASILY CHALLENGED.
None of these names are taught in Medical college as new names are churned out every day.
Most of the time , the drug store clerk will tell you that that particular brand is NOT available and he will give you a substitute. It is all about making sure drugs don't expire without getting consumed. All play this deadly game.
Some doctors will say that presciptions are made for the pharmacists eyes and hence the patient does NOT need to know.
This is NOT what your IMA wants.
If your handwriting is so bad , the why don't you write in capital letters.
OR IS IT BECAUSE , IF THE PATIENT DIES, DUE TO WRONG PRESCRIPTION, YOU CANNOT BE PINNED IN A COURT OF LAW?
Most of the time a drug store has one licenced pharmacist. But in Kerala we find his wife, his brother , his kids also chipping in--so that he does NOT have to employ someone and give him a salary. Even if he has employed someone, this soul will not be licenced. What do they know ? You will find them usually peering into the drug almanac to make out head and tail, with a crowd hustling for immediate attention.
WE ALL KNOW THERE IS A HUGE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN HURRIED HANDWRITING AND A DELIBERATE SELF RIGHTEOUS "CHICKEN SCRATCH" , MADE WITH ULTERIOR MOTIVE AND VESTED INTERESTS, TO DISGUISE SOMETHING.
The same doctors will have rock steady hands when making a surgical incision
Why are doctors who are competent so keen that the patient should remain in the dark about the medicines he consumes?
Note: We are willing to excuse the hassled doctors who handle the OPD departments of accident cases, where a minute delay can cost a life. Or the poor guys who wrote their three hour exams , with dozens of sheets , in the same type of bad handwriting.
OR IS THIS ALL ABOUT BULLSHIT "MEDICAL MYSTIQUE"?
Sorry, ladies and gentlemen , there are too many doctors around -- for this type of mystique.
There have been several cases in Mumbai where the pharmacist has been taken to task in court for issuing wrong medicines. Can he make a mistake if the prescription is legible in capital letters.
OK-- WE GOT IT -
DOCTORS AND ILLEGIBLE HANDWRITING GOES TOGETHER!
IT WAS NEVER ABOUT COVERING YOUR ASS.
-- OR MAYBE YOUR BRAINS FLY FASTER THAN YOUR MANGY HANDS, SO DESPITE KNOWING ALL THE SPELLINGS AND REMEMBERING ALL THOUSANDS OF GENERIC NAMES , YOU GOT ILLEGIBLE..
YOU GUYS ARE REALLY ACCOUNTABLE -- OH YEAH-- WE BELIEVE YOU !!
The writing is on the wall- In some countries , even in some US states , the doctor is fined heavily for illegible prescriptions. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.
CAPT AJIT VADAKAYIL