The Jharkhand government has made it mandatory for government and private doctors to write prescriptions for patients in capital letters.
In a notification issued on Friday, the state government has mandated doctors of all government hospitals and private nursing homes to follow the Indian Medical Council (Professional Conduct, Etiquette and Ethics) Regulations, 2002, which seeks to mention the generic name of drugs apart from writing prescriptions in capital letters only.
Issued by Akhauri Shashank Sinha, deputy secretary of health, medical education and family welfare department, the notification directed doctors to ensure prescriptions are written in clear, capital letters and prescribe rational drugs only.
The notification was issued in the wake of a Medical Council of India (MCI) directive released on September 28, 2016, asking every physician to prescribe drugs with generic names legibly and in capital letters.
“He/she shall ensure there are rational prescription and use of drugs,” the directive said.
A senior official of the state health department said violation of these notified MCI regulations would invite a warning in the first instance, suspension of registration for a certain period in the second, and cancellation of registration in the third.
Government and private doctors in Jharkhand have, however, been ignoring the MCI directive over the last two years.
The Indian Medical Association (IMA) and the Jharkhand Health Service Association (JHSA), the frontal organization of private doctors and state government medical officers, respectively, have mixed reactions to Friday’s notification. Both are apprehensive that it may increase patients’ problems.
IMA state president Dr. AK Singh said since writing prescriptions in capital letters had now become a rule, doctors would have to follow it but it would indirectly create problems for patients.
“A long line of patients appears at most hospitals and health centers. If a doctor writes in capital letters, one prescription would take a minimum of 10-15 minutes. Thus, several patients would have to return without prescriptions,” he said.
Singh said a delegation would approach the government with a request to rationalize the directive.
JHSA general secretary Dr. Bimlesh Kumar Singh said medical officers would have no problem writing prescriptions in capital letters but it would affect patients.
“At medical colleges, sadar hospitals and community health centers, about 800-1,000 patients come for treatment daily. Medical officers would not be able to write so many prescriptions in capital letters in a limited timespan,” he said.