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10 July 2013
Mumbai, India.

Ever been to consult a doctor on an ailment that’s been troubling you, wondering what’s behind the fever and the pains and the other symptoms you would blurt out only to the good doctor. He examines you and, with an inscrutable look on his face, writes out a prescription. You pay the stethoscope in cash and walk out into the bright sunlight and glance at the piece of paper in your hand and stop short. What? Can’t make head or tail of the scribble!

Well, you’re not alone. People the world over are at a loss when it comes making sense of a prescription. From general practitioners to specialists, doctors are the most illegible lot on the planet. But things they are a changing. The Maharashtra Medical Council (MMC) has decided to take the first step to bring some clarity to the good Doc’s handwriting, make it readable.

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MMC has issued an advisory to its members to write the brand name of the medicine with its generic name in brackets for the drugs prescribed along with his/her signature and MMC registration number. To ensure this is strictly adhered to, it has also asked the chemists to co-ordinate and help it enforce the order.

"It has been observed that, doctors don’t write legibly while prescribing medicines, which at times creates problems for chemists. In several instances this has resulted in the patient being given the wrong medicine with improper dosage," MMC president Dr Kishor Taori said. "Giving the trade name and generic name gives a choice to the patient and, therefore, doctors should mention both. Our move is to bring in accountability. Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) is stringently implementing laws/acts related to drugs and we support them."

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Supporting the move, Dr Shiv Kumar Utture, a MMC member, said that most medicine shops across the country do not have qualified pharmacists. "Often they fail to decipher what a doctor has written and end up giving wrong medicines," he said.

It might be recalled that the Indian Medical Association (IMA) had issued a directive to doctors asking them to write prescriptions in capital letters. Other doctors’ associations have also been giving crash courses to doctors on how to improve their handwriting.

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