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Epidemic of illegible prescriptions persists

  • Published at 01:13 am March 2nd, 2018
Epidemic of illegible prescriptions persists
Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU) patients repeatedly complain about the handwriting of doctors prescribing medication. The unintelligible handwriting sometimes renders prescriptions useless. Patients at the National Institute of Cancer Research and Hospital also face similar problems every day. A patient at BSMMU, 56-year-old Afia, said that the doctor prescribed her four medications, all written in barely legible handwriting. Another patient, Ruma, complains about similar issues. Her prescription is supposed to indicate when each medication needs to be taken, but the handwritten directions are indecipherable. Another patient, Ajit said he has seen many doctors scribble the prescription in such a rush that most of the words are illegible. A patient attendant Suraiya Akhter said it frustrates her to see such handwriting from doctors. She said once a doctor wrote down the directions in such bad handwriting that she had to go back to the doctor to know the names of the medicine. In 2017, in response to a writ filed by Human Rights and Peace for Bangladesh, a High Court bench consisting of Justice Naima Haydar and Justice Abu Taher Md Saifur Rahman ordered doctors to either write prescriptions in clear and block handwriting or type them out. The health secretary, Bangladesh Medical and Dental Council registrar, director general of Health Department, and Bangladesh Medical Association secretary were instructed to carry out the order within four weeks. According to information disclosed by Department of Drug Administration, currently there are 123,000 pharmacies in the country. Another 10,000 are running without registration. Pharmacists from Lalbagh, Azimpur, and Shahbag said many doctors still hand out such unreadable prescriptions. But some doctors give printed prescriptions which are clear and easily understandable. Few of them said they had to send the patients back to the doctor on some occasions to clarify the name of the medicine. A salesman from Nafisa Pharmacy, Sadrul, told the reporter, “Some patients come from far-away areas and it is not possible to send them back. In that case we give them medicine based on what we can understand from the prescription.” BSMMU Treasurer Prof Dr Ali Asgar Morol said, “It is true that some prescriptions are unreadable. We want to bring the whole department under automation for that reason. If this is actualized, each room will have a computer and all prescriptions will be printed. We need a land local network for that. We are working towards that goal. ” He also said that an agreement has been signed between World Bank and BSMMU regarding the matter. Dr Rashid e Mahbub, a health expert, said, “It is imperative for the prescription to be clear. The government has told all doctors to write in clear handwriting or in block letters. Computerizing the whole process will eliminate these problems.” He also emphasized the importance of raising awareness at the pharmacy stores. He said that if the salespeople at the pharmacy cannot read properly, they might hand out the wrong medicine. This could prove to be deadly for a patient.   This article first appeared on banglatribune.com