May 6 2011

Scribbled Handwriting


Ever gone to the pharmacy having no idea whatsoever about what’s written on the little piece of paper you are carrying? If you answer no, you are one lucky person and I guess you are one in a million.

Ever since I was very small I have seen prescriptions the doctors gave when I was sick and I wondered how in the world the poor pharmacist can decipher what is written on them. All I can make out is curls, lines, dots, squares and other geometrical shapes which I learnt at the Geometry class. When I was a kid I loved detective stories a lot and I had this pen friend in Germany with whom I communicated using a secret code. Those days I thought the doctor and the pharmacist is also communicating using a secret code of their own and there were times at which I sat down with prescriptions in my hand trying to unravel the secret code.

Anyway as I am all grown up now I understand that the doctor is writing the prescription in plain English and the poor pharmacist earns a living by combing these geometrical shapes and curls into words. In my opinion pharmacists should be awarded a Nobel price for doing this in a daily basis.

Recently I fell sick and my doctor ordered me to take some tests. So I happily went to a nearby hospital and gave the prescription to the laboratory and awaited to be checked. There was one line in the prescription which the lab could not make out. They said it was not a test and something else which they can’t really understand. So I ended up calling the doctor and reading out the two or three letters I could read of the entire sentence he had written. Luckily he remembered what it was and gave me the correct interpretation which put me and the lab people at ease.

I am sure I am not the only one who had experiences like this. If you just stand in a pharmacy for a few minutes you can see many prescriptions going in and out having scribbled handwriting. The thing I still don’t get is, why can’t our doctors who do an immense service to the mankind take an extra minute or two to write the prescriptions in clear handwriting? If they can do that they can put a stop to the suffering our pharmacists and people go through for which I am sure they would be thankful for.