Finally, the health ministry has woken up to an age-old problem of doctors writing in illegible English with an advisory issued on Thursday asking them to write prescriptions in “CAPITAL” letters preferably in a move to make it a norm soon.
The necessary gazette notification as per the Medical Council of India Regulations will be issued to mandate the doctors within 10 days to use only capital letters and also mention the generic name of the drug, said officials.
“Under this (gazette), the prescription should be legible and preferably written in capital letters along with the names of the generic drug prescribed,” said a senior Union Health Ministry official.
However, there will be no penalty on doctors if they don’t follow the norm but this will be a mandatory norm for them to follow in view of the safety of the patients and right drug sale for the chemists in the shops, said officials.
The move in this direction came when Health Minister J.P. Nadda last year told Parliament when some MPs expressed concerns that illegible prescription by doctors is leading to serious implications and even death in some cases.
“The central government has approved to amend Indian Medical Council Regulations, 2002, providing therein that every physician should prescribe drugs with generic names in legible and capital latter and he/she shall ensure that there is a rational prescription and use of drugs,” Mr. Nadda had told.
K.K. Aggarwal of Indian Medical Association (IMA) supported the idea saying the prescription errors can be reduced with this practice instead of forcing the doctors and hospitals to opt for electronic means to keep the health records immediately. In many cases one drug has about 10 brands and similarly worded Latin names lead to confusion among the doctors too.
Even in US, about 100,000 prescription errors are detected each year. No such figures are available in India though.