04 June 2009

Decoding scripts old and new

Recommended reading:
Decoding Antiquity: Eight scripts that can't be read by Andrew Robinson and the 75+ comments in New Scientist.

My first reaction on reading the title was Where's a pharmacist when you need one? but that's a cheap quip. I thought that now that prescriptions are computer-generated (in more ways than one, but that's another subject) we must be losing people who can read illegible handwriting, but that's hardly a loss anyone misses. I was wrong.

Doctors' bad handwriting. It's time to talk about it, pleads pharmacist Jim Plagakis. "Handwriting is a huge huge problem," he writes. "It is the turd in the punchbowl that everyone sees and no one talks about."

It sure causes problems for pharmacists when they can't decipher and guess wrong. How Safe is Your Prescription? Wrong drugs, incorrect dosages are more common than you think," by David Woods at consumer.com comes down hard on pharmacists, not the scrawlers who might as well throw entrails, they are so up to date. Why as a patient, would you put up with slop on paper when your health's on the stake?

How much handwriting is there any more anyway? How is your handwriting these days? Do you need a pharmacist to read your notes?

For other adventures in decoding, see my Onuspedia entry for James Godolphin.