My Experience with Doctors’ Handwriting
By Dineshwore Phuritshabam
Government hospital has failed always satisfying the Peoples’ needs. The present healthcare infrastructures that the Govt. has in our state Manipur, seems not enough to cope up with even 1/5th of the existing population. The huge daily rush of patients in outpatient department not only worsened the standard of clinical care at hospital but also leaves hardly the doctors with time to concentrate on medical research and teaching. Illegal practice of Govt. doctors at private hospitals despite getting Non Practicing Allowance also leads to substandard healthcare due to lack of concentration towards public hospital patients as their service has been money oriented. The main challenges in public hospitals are insufficient infrastructure and manpower, patient over load, non-committal services etc. These had struck in mind on a Friday, when went to JNIMS hospital for my sister’s treatment due to abdominal pain. The doctor asked for Ultrasound and to come on following Monday with report. Ironically due to long waiting list it can be done there only 22 days later from that day. Situation forced us to take ultra sound from outside. After seeing the ultrasound and report the doctors due to some complicacy refer to specialist of urology department. The assistant helper staff there suggested us to stand in early morning for OPD ticket at the Counter number 3, as only 40 tickets (30 for outside & 10 for JNIMS staffs) are issued from 9.00 a.m onwards on every working Monday, Thursday and Saturday. Treatment is started by 11.00 a.m. usually.
The early morning stand at JENIMS makes me aware of shortage of specialist doctors, infrastructures in public hospitals. It results limited patient intake as mentioned in the above resulting massive impact to the rural poor patients as they can’t reach early morning there. It compelled them to go for costly treatment at private hospitals as they don’t have other options, easily falling in the trap of private hospitals. Poor and their families are being exploited by this current healthcare system.
Standing from 4.30a.m to 9.00a.m in queue and starving at last observed at 11.00 am by the specialist doctor minutely very well. Later he prescribed 2 medicines. It was good and readable. However I can’t decipher all of the three medicines written by a female gynecology department doctor as it was written in such a shabby handwriting that they are not readable. Her signature was also signed below the prescribed medicines. Most of pharmacist can comprehend only one medicine that also after getting assistance from their colleagues. They struggle to decipher the two prescribed medicine. But they all of them failed. Even two senior doctors from JNIMS couldn’t read them. So Medication is started only with three medicines. Being a common man irrespective of their specialty, position and position a few open questions to the concerns authorities -
1. Why do doctors write their handwriting in such shabby manner?
2. Is it to save their valuable time?
3. Is it symbol to show that they are doctors? If so is there any special training for so called doctors’ handwriting?
4. Don’t they know wrong medication due to misspell of their dancing handwriting may be fatal to the patient?
4. And who will be responsible if it cause implication to the patient?
Illegible handwriting of doctors might have caused a number of serious implications including deaths of patients in Manipur owing to medical errors. Since we don’t have a perfect data on it, the exact number of such cases , are not known.
Doctors still dare to ignore the MCI and Government directions as there is no monitoring mechanism. This is a grave cause of concern. The Medical Council of India has instructed both private and public doctors in 2016 to prescribed medicines in clear and legible handwriting. Notification number MCI-221 (2)/2016 (Ethics)/131118 issued by the in October 2016 directs the doctors to write prescription in capital letter or legible letters and prescribe medicines in generic names. On April 21, 2017, The MCI had directed the entire medical community in India to follow its October 2016 notification. P.M Modi also announced in 2017 that his government will bring in legal framework by which if a doctor writes a prescription, he has to write in generic names in a legible manner.
After lodging a formal complaint about shabby handwriting of doctors to the Medical Superintendent, took up necessary actions to help me immediately and order for a circulation to all the doctors to write medicines in capital letter with their signature. His attitude shows the moral and ethics of a good doctor. There is need of doctors like him in public hospitals to let the people feel hospitality at hospital.
Unless doctors ethically follow the good move or direction of MCI, problem will exist same as at present. Installation of Computer applications and digitization of patient records and prescription i.e e-health can help solve many medication related problems including illegible handwriting. If so anybody from the medical fraternity whether doctor or nurses can quickly access the patient data without errors. It will also help various types of studies and research which can lead to an overall improvement in the quality and effectiveness in healthcare system of our state. Only ethical and moral practice of doctors and sufficient infrastructural and manpower development, enough to cope with the existing populations can bring feeling of hospitality on the face of the patients and their families at public hospitals.
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