The days of doctors’ prescriptions being parallel lines of illegible scrawls punctuated by the odd circle to indicate dosage, may soon be a thing of the past.
The executive committee of the Medical Council of India has decided that doctors should only write prescriptions in capital letters.
If the prescription also includes other remarks such as dietary advice or recommended tests, then at least the drug names and dosages should be written clearly in capitals, the committee has ruled.
Letters to this effect will soon be sent to all medical colleges, MCI chairperson Dr Jayshreeben Mehta told The Indian Express Monday.
“The executive committee has just passed this proposal. The committee unanimously felt that drug names and dosages are at times not clearly written in prescriptions causing a lot of confusion among both chemists and patients. That is why we have decided that all prescriptions should be in capital letters. Once the order comes out, it will be sent to all medical colleges,” Mehta said.
Committee members, sources said, made a strong pitch for all-caps prescriptions on the ground that misreading even a single letter can alter the name of a drug dramatically and lead to disastrous consequences for the patient.
Doctors have welcomed the move but health ministry sources said they had no information about the decision.
The MCI holds that decisions are referred to the ministry only when they have been cleared by the ethics section and a draft change of regulations framed for the ministry to approve. “This requires a change in MCI regulations so it will have to be referred to the health ministry. We will do that in due course. Right now it is just a draft that the executive committee has approved,” Mehta said.
Medical associations welcomed the move saying this would benefit patients.
“This is a good move. Often because of illegible handwriting, the patient does not know what has been prescribed. This will reduce confusion and work in patient interest in the long run,” said Dr D R Rai, secretary, Indian Medical Association.
The move, doctors said, will also tackle a practice by pharma companies to name products after well established brands by making minor changes in spellings and cash in on its popularity.
MCI sources, however, said no decision has been taken on how the order will be enforced and whether complaints against doctors violating it would result in penal action.