A year back, during a trip to my mother’s place in Kolkata, India, I found a neatly folded bag in her cupboard. It had empty sachets of her regular medicines and a handwritten note of the timings for taking them. She explained to me that she could not understand her prescription. Hence, she used her notes and kept the empty sachets, which proved useful when she needed to re-order her medicines. I was scared to even think of the consequences of my mother taking a double dose of her diabetes medicine or skipping her blood pressure pills due to a wrong reference to her notes.
I sat down with her doctor’s prescription, the empty sachets, and the medical bills and could decode the names of her medicines. I arranged the medicines into zip bags and wrote down the names of her tablets on a separate paper. This sheet proved helpful for few months till the doctor changed some of her medicines. On my next visit, I found that along with the handwritten sheet, there were few additional new sachets kept in her zip bags. Every time my mother visited her doctor, she got a new prescription. Fortunately, her physiotherapist started to help with the medicines. She regularly updated the list and ensured that my mother took the correct dose.
My mother represents many of the Indian parents who stay alone and often face this situation regularly.
In India, most doctors give a handwritten prescription. Patients can refer to this sheet and buy medicines from a pharmacy of their choice.
In a recent case, a patient in India raised the issue of poor handwriting of her doctor. Out of the three medicines mentioned in her prescription, only one was legible. She had to struggle to find out the names of the other two. Sometimes the patients require a second opinion of their treatment and need to consult a different doctor. An illegible prescription cause inconvenience and confusion.
Government hospital’s medical prescription leaves patient puzzled | lucknow | Hindustan Times –
A few years back, a local hospital in India made it mandatory for doctors to write their prescriptions in capital letters. It was a good initiative, but not yet truly in use.
In India, today, many hospitals print the discharge summaries for their patients. The pathological labs also provide typed reports. Private practitioners are yet to enforce the practice, and poorly written medical prescription is still a big concern. For seniors who stay alone, misread prescriptions can be dangerous.
Outside India, doctors usually have their pharmacies. They issue the prescriptions directly to the pharmacists. The patients get their medicines along with the printed instructions for the dosage.
The hope is that in India also printed prescriptions will become a mandatory practice, and the system will then have fewer medical inaccuracies. Patients will be safe and confident and can keep a proper record of their treatment.
Until then, we need to solve the struggle of handwritten prescriptions. The solution can vary. A 78-years old uncle told me that he pays additional money to the pharmacist to help him with the names of the new medicines. Another elder mentioned that his doctor’s assistant transcribed his regular prescription.
It will be helpful to know how my friends handle the situation, especially for their beloved seniors.