DOCTOR'S VIEWS ARCHIVE

Doctors' Handwriting…The Plain Truth!

BOSTON-You can't read your doctor's writing on the prescription! The notes on your instruction sheet are impossible to decipher! "It must have been taught in medical school!"

The clarity of a doctor's handwriting would seemingly be an important part of healthcare communication.

The question whether the legibility of doctors' handwriting is more of a problem than that of other adults was recently studied by Donald M. Berwick at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement.

Dr. Berwick and associates compared the handwriting of 82 doctors with 127 non-doctors. The study was published in the British Medical Journal (1996;313:1657-8). The study data showed that doctors, in fact, have handwriting no worse than that of non-doctors!

Nevertheless, the authors emphasize that the potential impact of poor handwriting on healthcare must not be ignored. They point out that clarity of writing is a human problem rather than being unique to doctors as a group.

Believe it or not!


Last Editorial Review: 8/14/1998