Cause of Death: Sloppy Doctors

Doctors’ sloppy handwriting kills more than 7,000 people annually. It’s a shocking statistic, and, according to a July 2006 report from the National Academies of Science’s Institute of Medicine (IOM), preventable medication mistakes also injure more than 1.5 million Americans annually. Many such errors result from unclear abbreviations and dosage indications and illegible writing on some of the 3.2 billion prescriptions written in the U.S. every year.


I’ve always wondered why the doctor’s office couldn’t send an email or some other electronic communication to the pharmacist, seems like it would save time and money as well as reduce errors.

Somewhat related, why do we have to carry a piece of paper in our automobiles that claims we have insurance?  It’s very easy to create a fake one.  Shouldn’t law enforcement be able to run our driver’s license or license plate and be able to verify our insurance coverage with some database? 

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3 Responses to Cause of Death: Sloppy Doctors

  1. hot_banana says:

    here in germany – the prescription(s) will be signed by the doctor – they’ll give you the blank Rx paper which you’ll give to the assist/receptionist who’ll slide it in the printer to print it out from the computer.

    what happens is – the doctor has her laptop or PC where s/he’s already typing your prescription for you, during your appt. so when you go to the assist/receptionist, your stuff is already in their share drive, ready to go.

    so there are no errors from the pharmacists when they fill up your Rx. love it!

  2. Doug says:

    I must say, I’m astounded that anyone would suggest that our US health system is anything but a model of perfection.

    I would submit that smoke signals would be better than my doctors handwriting. Why just yesterday I got a prescription filled for … *thud*


  3. Travis says:

    the Veterans Affairs hospitals have been using just such an electronic system for years, ahead of their civilian counterparts. In 2006, VA received a prestigious “Innovations in American Government” Award from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government for its advanced electronic health records and performance measurement system.

    also, a comprehensive study by Harvard Medical School published December 11 in the Annals of Internal Medicine,concludes that federal hospitals, including those run by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), provide the best care available anywhere for some of the most common life-threatening illnesses- in the case that you were wondering/

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