Doctors scribbling on prescriptions could soon be a thing of the past, with the Medical Council of India (MCI) coming up with a ‘bold prescription’ mandating physicians to write the names of drugs in capital letters.
There have been numerous cases of pharmacists and patients straining their eyes to figure out the name of medicines prescribed by doctors. Sometimes drug names have been misread putting the safety of patients at risk.
To end this, the MCI, at its meeting in New Delhi on January 23, approved its draft notifications, which among other things, mandates doctors to use capital letters while writing prescription slips. The MCI has forwarded the draft to the Health Ministry for endorsement. “We made this decision after we received complaints on drugs with similar names being misread. Besides, a single letter change could lead to medical errors. We must ensure that chemists do not have any doubts about what is written on prescriptions,” said MCI president Dr Jayshreeben Mehta.
The prescription should be understandable to the pharmacist, so that the same combination of medicine is repeated next time, she added.
Commenting on the move, Dr M Balasubramanian, president of Indian Medical Association (IMA-Tamil Nadu), said, “Even a single letter can alter the medicine.”
“Non-pharmacists face problems in identifying the exact medicine in case of two or more similar sounding names,” he added.
However, Dr L P Thangavelu, past president of IMA-TN, felt if the doctor’s handwriting in capital letters is also illegible, then it will not serve the purpose. Rather, doctors should be advised to write the prescriptions legibly.
“Some pharmacy companies try to capitalise on a drug’s brand value by introducing another drug after making minor changes in the spelling. We cannot put patients’ safety at risk,” said N Anandan, honorary general secretary, TN Chemists and Druggists Association.