12/06/2015 9:27 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST

Blame Doctors' Handwriting For Wrong Medicine? Soon They May Be Asked To Write In Caps

A state government doctor writes out a prescription after examining a flood victim at a flood relief medical centre set up in Talmari village in Raichur district some 700 km north of Bangalore on October 6, 2009. Aid workers used helicopters and boats to try to reach survivors of massive floods in southern India that have killed at least 280 people, as days of heavy rain and flash floods in the states of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra forced close to 1.5 million people to take refuge in relief camps AFP PHOTO/Dibyangshu SARKAR (Photo credit should read DIBYANGSHU SARKAR/AFP/Getty Images)

NEW DELHI—Jokes about illegible scribbles of doctors that made patients scratch their heads may soon become a thing of past.

The Union Health Ministry will soon come out with a gazette notification asking doctors to prescribe medicines in capital letters to make them "legible".

The doctors will also be asked to mention the generic names of drugs they prescribe to help people buy them cheap.

"The Health Ministry will come out with gazette notification under the MCI regulations. Under this, the prescription should be legible and preferably written in capital letters along with the names of the generic drug prescribed," a senior Union Health Ministry official told PTI.

Sources said that the notification is likely to be issued by the Ministry within a week's time.

The official, however, said there would be no penalties or punishment for the doctors not following the notification.

"Like all other MCI regulations, this too will govern the doctors," he said.

Health Minister J P Nadda had shared the concern voiced by some MPs in Parliament last year that illegible prescriptions may have serious implications for patients and could lead even to death in some cases.

"The central government has approved to amend Indian Medical Council Regulations, 2002, providing therein that every physician should prescribe drugs with generic names in legible and capital latters and he/she shall ensure that there is a rational prescription and use of drugs," Nadda had said.

K K Aggarwal of Indian Medical Association (IMA) said writing in capital letters will help decrease prescription errors and will be a cheaper alternative to electronic health records.

"Prescription errors will decrease. It will become uniform. One drug has 10 odd brands. The patients will be now able to know whether the drug is generic or not," Aggarwal told PTI.

"In US alone, 100,000 prescription errors occur every year. India does not have any data on this. This is a cheaper alternative to electronic health records. It will take some time for doctors to get used to it," he said.