The Fatal Errors of Prescription Writing

October 24, 2008

What is so difficult in making your prescriptions legible? How can prescribers take such chances? I'd like to know how impatience can play such a part.

Let me tell you something that we all see, but are so dulled and anesthetized that we rarely say anything about it.

Patients die because of prescriber’s egregiously bad handwriting. What is so difficult in making your prescriptions legible? How can prescribers take such chances? I’d like to know how impatience can play such a part. Is it arrogance? Ego? Those are honest questions.

Kate Gladstone does CE Seminars at hospitals on handwriting. She is there to try to fix problems caused by handwriting. She likes to tell the story about the infant that was killed by a misplaced decimal point. The parents picked up the body (I don’t know why it was like this) and did not go to the funeral home. They went straight to their lawyer’s house. They got a very motivated trial lawyer to act in their behalf.

It was a horror for the hospital, the prescriber, and the pharmacist. The publicity alone practically buried all three of them. They finally settled right before the trial. Millions. Big plural.

Before the end of the year, Drug Topics magazine, the foremost news magazine for the pharmacy industry for a century, will run a cover piece on prescribers’ handwriting. Over a half million pharmacists, technicians, interns and students will pass the magazine around. (243,000 pharmacists). No one will want to miss this one. It will be the most read issue of Drug Topics for decades.

Prescribers are going to look very bad. Try words like "inconsiderate," "rude," and "thoughtless."

I’m just the messenger.