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Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Handwriting on the Wall, continued: A medication error

Reader Kate Gladstone comments on Armando's Castellanos' story:

Among the hospitals that call me in to prevent medication errors (by
giving handwriting classes to the doctors), a fairly high percentage
claim to have "computerized everything" 1 or 2 or 5 or more years ago
… yet they still have handwriting problems, because of a crucial 1% to
5% of handwritten documentation that just won't go away.

Doctors in "totally computerized" hospitals still scribble Post-Its to
slap onto the walls of the nurse's station, still scrawl notes on the
cuffs of their scrubs during impromptu elevator/corridor conferences
with colleagues … and, most of all, doctors with computer systems
often have the ward clerks operate the computers, use the Net, or
whatever: working, of course, from the doctors' illegible handwriting.
Bad doctor handwriting, incorrectly deciphered by ward clerks using
the computer for any purpose, thereby enters the computerized medical

And what happens when disasters like Hurricane Katrina (or tsunamis)
knock out a hospital's network? More than one hospital, during
Katrina, lost its generator, its electric power — and therefore its
computer system — for the duration. Even the computer-savviest staff
in these disaster zones had to return to handwriting. Let's hope they
wrote legibly.

Yours for better letters, Kate Gladstone -

handwritingrepair@gmail.com - telephone 518/482-6763
Handwriting Repair and the World Handwriting Contest
325 South Manning Boulevard
Albany, New York 12208-1731 USA

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