Why is doctors' handwriting so bad?
Doctor handwriting is notoriously bad. But writing badly for a doctor is a matter of survival. In one eight hour shift s/he can write their signature alone fifty to one hundred or more times!
The problem for doctors is the volume of paperwork that needs to be done for each patient encounter. For legal reasons, everything done, found, or instructed, has to be documented prior to discharge. Many doctors eventually realize that most of
this paper-trail ends life stuffed in filing cabinets to never be seen again and interferes in what is really important to doctors - seeing and treating patients!
Many also realize that what they write is not intended for the public to see, only for themselves and their peers. As you'll see, the way we write is decipherable amongst us because we know what to look for. And you'll see that illegible doctor handwriting is made not born (how could anyone get through college far less med school writing so badly?).
Doctor Handwriting Tips
- Abbreviate - It's much faster to write 'SOB' than 'shortness of breath'.
- Write small - distance takes time so writing tiny saves time.
- Skip vowels - can u rd ths sntnce? Most sentences can be read without vowels.
- Write the first two or three letters legibly then Scrawl. Doctors use the same words over and over so it only takes one or two letters in context to recognize a specialized word eg.
The problem with this kind of handwriting is when doctors get so in the habit of writing bad that they write everything to their peers and public in this medical shorthand noone else - and often they themselves - can't read. So it's important to remember that doctor handwriting has limitations like any other tool in the medicine bag. Luckily, computer records are quickly making doctor handwriting and scribbled records a naughty thing of the past as more docs either type or dictate their chart notes.