The Orissa High Court on Monday recommended that doctors working in Government or private or other medical set-ups should write the name of prescribed drugs in "capital letters", to ensure that their prescriptions are "legible".
The remarks were made by a bench of Justice SK Panigrahi while hearing of a bail application, whereby the Applicant sought interim relief to take care of his ailing wife. He had produced the medical records of his wife, which the Court found to be of "pathetically poor legibility", far beyond comprehension of any common man.
While the Court allowed the bail plea, it proceeded to address the issue of "guess work" and related inconveniences, when it comes to reading illegible handwriting in medical records.
"Such illegible scrawls composed by doctors creates unnecessary nuisance at the end of the patients, pharmacists, Police, prosecutors, judges who are bound to deal with such medical reports. Prescriptions of physicians, OPD slips, post-mortem report, injury report etc. written, perforce, are required to be legible and fully comprehensible. A medical prescription ought to leave any room for ambiguity or interpretation," the bench observed.
Significantly, Regulation 1.5 of the Indian Medical Council (Professional Conduct, Etiquette, and Ethics) (Amendment) Regulations, 2016 mandates every physician to prescribe drugs, preferably in capital letters.
Noting that the Regulation is not being followed scrupulously, the bench cautioned that illegible handwriting in medical records has the propensity to have adverse medico-legal implications. Further, it may make the medical practitioners vulnerable to threat of medical negligence.
It therefore suggested that it is imperative for the entire physician community to go an extra mile and make conscious efforts to write prescriptions in "good handwriting", preferably in Capital Letters.
"The illegible or significantly lower legibility than average handwriting impedes understanding the prescriptions and stand as a barrier to proper comprehension leading to, among others, innumerable medical complication.
In this new age of consumerism and the looming threat of allegations of medical negligence, it is imminent that the professionals protect themselves by exercising this basic care and caution," the order sates.
The Court has also requested the Chief Secretary, Government of Odisha to examine the feasibility of issuing appropriate circulars, in consultation with the Medical Council of India and the Central Government, to implement the abovementioned directions, as per the Notifications dated 21.09.2016 issued by the Medical Council of India.
Case Title: Krishna Pad Mandal v. State of Odisha
Case No.: BLAPL No. 3541/2020
Quorum: Justice SK Panigrahi
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