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Engineer style handwriting for doctors

Hold doctors to the same specific handwriting standards that engineers are held to
  (+42, -1)(+42, -1)(+42, -1)
(+42, -1)
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Not that engineers and architects do much hand drawing of plans anymore, but before the age of CAD/CAM, it was necessary to have a specific and clear handwriting style that everyone would use for the labels in drawings and plans. Which leads me to this: I just got a job at a hospital, sorting and processing the paper requesition forms that get sent along with the samples to the lab. We have to translate the doctor's scribles into ICD-9-CM codes, and there are all kinds of legal ramifications to making any sort of error, or assumption. Anything that is not legible leads to a costly process of trying to contact the doctor (who has much better things to do) for more information. And that whole problem is trivial compaired to the complications caused by misread prescriptions. I think doctors should be required to use the standard engineering style handwriting for any official documentation that they hand write. Problem solved.
JakePatterson, Feb 07 2002

A prospective study http://www.bmj.com/archive/7072ww3.htm
In defense of the good doctor [shudderprose, Mar 28 2009]

[link]






       Very graphic.
reensure, Feb 07 2002
  

       Draftsman Gothic
bristolz, Feb 08 2002
  

       [UB] Is that the guy that wrote all that healthcare oriented organ music?
goff, Feb 08 2002
  

       Isn't it to do with personality? Engineers are very serious personalities obsessed with minutiae and one step away from a career in accountancy (I'm basing this on my friend Kerri). Whereas doctors are hard-drinking, rugby-playing, womanizing rebels living on the edge of life and death, who would no more write neatly than they would stop injecting themselves with large doses of diamorphine.
pottedstu, Feb 08 2002
  

       There do seem to be a lot of doctors buying Harley-Davidsons these days. So they must be rebels!
sera, Feb 08 2002
  

       What psychological disorder causes doctors to write in such a way?
thumbwax, Feb 08 2002
  

       Its the DT's from being such dedicated drunks.
mcscotland, Feb 08 2002
  

       Its not a psychological disorder, they just don't want you to be able to read; 'bung this hyperchondiac loon half a pound of smarties (U.S. M&Ms) and send him packing' on your perscription.
Zircon, Feb 08 2002
  

       Truly dedicated drunks never get the DTs.
calum, Feb 08 2002
  

       Why have the doctors write anything at all? Give 'em a hand-held and have them fill out paperwork wirelessly.
phoenix, Feb 08 2002
  

       goff, I think you should post "healthcare oriented organ music" as a separate idea.   

       A croissant to JP for this well-intentioned and potentially life-saving suggestion.   

       (*goes on JakePatterson bond-buying spree*)
waugsqueke, Feb 08 2002
  

       A truly excellent idea. But at my GP's, they type the prescriptions on the computer. It reduces the risk of people trying to tamper with the dosage etc, apparently. If this system was widely adopted it would kinda make the handwriting standard redundant.
salachair, Feb 08 2002
  

       oh dear i want to be an engineer but have terrible handwriting. do they change that on engineering courses or do i have to have my thumbs surgically altered (by someone with even worse handwriting)?
chud, Feb 08 2002
  

       I have truly awful handwriting and I'm an engineer. Although not a very good one...   

       the volume of notes might have something to do with it, although I think it was the electric shock I received as a child...   

       Come to think of it, I've always kinda admired doctors...   

       Where does this leave bioengineers?
RayfordSteele, Feb 08 2002
  

       I trained briefly as an engineer and had to study the art of writing in BS CAPITALS.
arora, Feb 08 2002
  

       I was an engineer and could write perfectly well on drawings while still having abysmal handwriting. They are different skills, or maybe different attitudes -- speed has alot to do with it. Therein lies the problem with doctors -- they are all on speed.
grob, Feb 08 2002
  

       Excellent! I'd give you a golds star, but i guess you're just going to have to settle for a croissant.
[ sctld ], Feb 08 2002
  

       I have a friend who is a doctor. He writes joke captions under some of the pictures in his waiting room magazines. Every joke is completely illegible, which is a good thing, since his sense of humor needs work too.
Krate, Feb 08 2002
  

       doctors' writing is the result of moving ones hand in an agitated manner while thinking about what you might like to write... I would encourage docs to make the first letter legible (then continue as above)... this is especially true for their signature.
lewstanley, Nov 28 2003
  

       I vote for this. If you couldn't make it a law, well, I'd guess that insurance companies may give financial incentives to doc's that pass certification. Esp. in the US where malpractice insurance can be $200,000/Dr/Year for some specialties.   

       Someday soon, there is bound to be hand-helds ala "palm"or similar, that have a nice menus. It's not even worth half-baking because there's such a huge real market for it.   

       Like start w/a sketch of a body, and the doc clicks on the area of concern, then clicks on the type of problem, then it auto-recommends 12 diagnoses, click one, then auto-recommends 5 corrective paths (prescription, surgery, rest, instructions), choose one or 2, put it in the master database and printout all necessary documents. I imagine this would work for 80% of the cases they handle.   

       The only barrier to this really is that Doc's would feel offended that 80% of their job could be nearly automated, and they'd be reduced to pressing visual buttons like the McDonald's cashiers.   

       Maybe they LIKE to write messy because it separates them from the hoi polloi.   

       All that said, my handwriting is horrible. I usually just call them "hand-guestures w/ pen" rather than hand-writing. And since I'm an engineer, I would recommend changing the idea's title from "Engineer" to "Certified" to give it more credibility. (Not that it needs it with all the buns.)
sophocles, Jan 09 2004
  

       Having to write a large volume of paperwork would cause their writing to be sloppy, but I suppose terrible penmanship is natural to some. I can say that from personal experience. As I write more I tend to lose what little concern I had for overall legibility, so I can empathize with them. Forcing competent doctors to conform to this would only hamper their ability to work. Why should they be burdened by this mandate?   

       Pharmacists can read a doctor's writing...
darkknight_152002, Apr 05 2004
  

       Not always, and if they're in a rush, they might just have to guess.
Detly, Apr 05 2004
  

       if they are not sure, they have to telephone and ask!
po, Apr 05 2004
  

       I suspect that half of the doctor’s handwriting thing is to do with confidentiality that and all the tla's they have stolen. A thought just occurred that given that Latin and Greek terms are used could it be to hide poor spelling?
engineer1, Apr 05 2004
  

       I think the term "physician" is better than "doctor" because it removes ambiguity. Concerning the homicide thing, that would depend on everyone being immortal because everybody does actually die in the end, and usually those people have recently been seen by a physician.
I'm a little surprised i haven't commented on this before. There is standard language for medical records and prescriptions. Also, you do have to write incredibly fast and keep eye contact with the patient. It's often important to get things down verbatim, and there are standard forms as well as standard abbreviations and nomenclature. I have it off-pat by now: C/O; HPC; PMH and so on - Complaining Of; History of Presenting Complaint; Previous Medical History...I don't know if doctors/physicians have the same forms as we have, but they definitely have the same nomenclature and abbreviations. In any case, rapport with the patient is more important than any of this. If i looked at the paper while writing, i would miss body language and a whole load of other stuff. I'm doing things like counting respirations and comparing inspiration and expiration ratios and looking for pupillary dilation, goitres, tics, tremor, whatever, and doctors will be doing the same. They have to deal with human beings. I imagine engineering is also in some ways oriented around people in a sort of ergonomic sense, but i don't know how this manifests itself. Maybe differently.
nineteenthly, Mar 26 2009
  

       Now that I think about it, bad handwriting often means bad motor skills in general. Suddenly I'm having unsettling thoughts about surgeons.
Spacecoyote, Mar 27 2009
  

       I wouldn't worry about them, they hardly even recognise other human beings as people, so they're not the ones with the bad handwriting because they don't generally make any notes. Seriously though, that would depend on how important it is to be quick rather than careful. The reason it's like a spider's trail on the paper because you have to write _really_ fast. Also, a fair amount is in Latin. The kind of motor skills a surgeon needs might be similar to having to write quickly and neatly if they're hacking limbs off an unanæsthetised patient on a battlefield, and when there's ischæmia in vulnerable tissue as a result of what they're doing, but not if they're just doing something trivial like brain surgery.
nineteenthly, Mar 27 2009
  

       I would like to see examples of this standard handwriting and how it is taught to engineers.
bungston, Mar 27 2009
  

       Do engineers really use that thing to make each letter? Or do they just get used to writing letter like the template?
bungston, Mar 27 2009
  

       Good idea [+]. Maybe doctors should type, as [phoenix] said.   

       <troll warning> //Engineers are very serious personalities obsessed with minutiae and one step away from a career in accountancy// Hmph! I will (help) build the next revolution! What accountant can say that?! (pause for pondering recent news events) Oh...wow, accountants had a pretty big impact. Don't underestimate those accountants.   

       I propose a direct correlation between impact on teh world and obsession with minutiae. </troll warning>
sninctown, Mar 27 2009
  
      
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