Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Bad handwriting effects EIK processes, too!

I'll admit it - I have lousy handwriting. Can't spell well either. I wish social networking sites had spell check.

But of course, my mistakes - whereas they are sometimes a tad embarrasing, don't have the potential to cause major harm or delay in medical care. A rant recently appeared on a librarians email discussion group about poor penmanship and citation accuracy from a physician who needed some articles. Given my "safety" perspective, I asked why the librarian didn't just wait until the physycian could be reached to clarify the messy citations -- rather than foraging around trying to use their skills (and limited time) to figure it out. By enabling this -- aren't we normalizing the ineffective behavior?

I inherently know the answer (time, pride, frustration, hierarchy, etc) but aren't we enabling poor citation and request behavior by enabling it by making due? Theoretically, a patient's care COULD be in the balance. Maybe not this time, but next time, will the delay due to poor penmanship be more costly than the frustration and wasted time of a professional?

A colleague on the list, Fred King, shared this bit of phrasology that addresses the handwriting dilemma.

Neatness Counts

Higgledy piggledy
Sarah the resident
write your prescriptions so
they can be read.

Patients affected by
could end up dead.

Fred King
Medical Librarian
Washington Hospital Center

It is with his permission, that I share it here.

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