Write names of drugs and dosages in capital letters, Odisha HC advises doctors

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The High Court of Orissa has advised doctors working in the State’s Govt-run hospitals & private healthcare facilities to write the name of drugs in capital letters or in a legible manner that will help in easily deciphering them, their doses, strength, & also the frequency of use.

HC made the observation while disposing of a bail application of Krushna Pada Mandal, who is accused in a Narcotic Drugs & Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act, 1985, case.

Justice SK Panigrahi observed that the physician community at large must walk an extra mile & make conscious efforts to write prescriptions in good handwriting, preferably in capital letters.

While granting bail to the accused in the NDPS case, Justice Panigrahi said that “While there could be some good justifications for sloppy handwriting (by doctors) due to heavy work pressure, long working hours, writer’s cramp & due to adverse the patient-doctor ratio in the country at large & also in Odisha, the medical professionals should protect themselves by exercising this basic care & caution from the looming threat of allegations of medical negligence. Perhaps, the capital letters could ensure proper visibility to the prescriptions & will remove the guesswork & related inconveniences. The digital era could also throw open several options to make prescriptions & the diagnosis more patient-friendly”.

Mandal, who is lodged in a jail in Berhampur, had filed a bail application seeking release to take care of his wife, who is suffering from gynecological, cardio-vascular & haematological complications.

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Mandal had applied for an interim bail to get her treated, as she lives alone in Berhampur town in Ganjam district.

However, during the verification of the medical documents of Mandal’s wife, the court found the handwriting of a doctor’s prescription to be illegible.

The Order said that “The documents were far beyond the comprehension of any common man or even for the court. Such illegible handwriting in medical records has the propensity to have adverse medico-legal implications”.

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HC also referred to the circular, issued by the Medical Council of India (MCI) in Sept 2016, which had said every physician should prescribe drugs with generic names & preferably in capital letters & ordered the chief secretary of Odisha to examine the feasibility of issuing appropriate circulars to implement the Council’s circular.

“The objective of such notification is that writing names of medicine in capital letters ensures that doctors, who have poor running handwriting, can compensate for their deficiency by writing in capital letters. Appropriate steps may be taken to create awareness among the medical professionals, involved in medico-legal cases, to record their observations & comments in a legible manner,” the Court added. 

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