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Why Do Doctors Have Bad Handwriting

Whether it’s penning down a message, taking notes, or completing a form, handwriting is an essential part of our daily activities. Hence, it is always among the first things people learn when they were a child.

Why is Handwriting Important

Although modern technology has changed drastically with the way people communicate these days, writing on a piece of paper is still significant. Some transactions require your penmanship, such as affixing your signature or filling out a bank form.

Good, eligible handwriting is a relevant factor in understanding the information you want to convey or share. That is why experts correlated it to a person’s characteristics or personality.

When your penmanship is well-written, almost everyone would say that you’re a professional, neat, and organized person. However, it is not always the same scenario for other professionals like doctors.

Doctor’s Handwriting

One way or another, you were able to get a hold of a handwritten doctor’s prescription. No matter how you try to squint your eyes, so just you can read what’s on the receipt or letter, it doesn’t help. You still can’t get through or understand what’s on his notes.

For this reason, some people joke around about having bad penmanship as one of the essential requirements for any graduating medical student to become a doctor. What makes it more thought-provoking? Some doctors admit that, at times, they can’t read their handwriting.

So, what more for others who will read it? It will probably be a disaster. Statistics state that the sloppy penmanship kills over seven thousand (7,000) patients every year, and up to this date, it remains to be a relevant problem in medicine.

Why Do Doctors Have Bad Handwriting

And so, most people wonder why do doctors have bad handwriting? Many have come up with ideas and reasons for their illegible penmanship. Nonetheless, below is a list of the valuable and justifiable reasons why your physician’s prescription is hard to decipher.

These are the five (5) dominant causes of doctor’s sloppy penmanship.

·       Top 5 Reasons Why Doctors Have Band Handwriting

There have been numerous reasons raised by the medical professionals why they write, unintelligibly, most of the time, if not all the time. And these are the top five (5) that are prevalent and prevailing.

1.  Time Management

Doctors are always on the go. They’re working round-the-clock and pumped up with a long list of patients every day. So, each second is essential for them.

Spending an hour with every patient will sacrifice their productivity and the patients they’re able to attend. Hence, they’re always rushing. Due to the number of patients, who are waiting in line, they need to see in an extremely limited time, taking all information down is more relevant than having perfect penmanship or writing it perfectly.

2.  Hard to Spell Medical Words and Jargon

Aside from keeping their pace so they can attend to all their patients, one of the struggles that the doctors have to face in jotting down notes, medical reports, or prescriptions is the jargon and hard to spell medical words.

Inarguably, there are medical terms that are out-of-this-world or unique when it comes to spelling. Hence, some doctors try to scribble it to either cover the error or truncate the words, as admitted by a few doctors.

Some medical jargon also creates confusion for patients, and thus, they write it that only the pharmacists or fellow physicians can understand. 

While their brain is analyzing a diagnosis, not to mention the other patients’ illnesses and treatments, it’s quite hard sometimes to keep up with some of the spellings of medical words, such as amitriptyline and epididymitis.

3.   Volume of Paperwork

One of the most justifiable reasons why doctors have illegible handwriting is due to overwhelming prescriptions and reports to note.

In the medical or healthcare industry, everything should get documented. Whatever a doctor says behind closed doors, it needs to get jot down in writing as a record of physical evidence of what transpired during admission and the patient’s medical history. 

So, doctors have already long days working, added with tons of overwhelming notes and reports, which, eventually, equate to an extremely tired hand. And in the course of time, those hand muscles tend to get worse due to overworking.

Since they were students, they have been consistently taking notes. Thus, their hands get a little tired of writing intelligibly.

4.  Tired Hands

Apart from their brilliant minds and perfect vision, one of the most overused body parts of doctors is their hands. So, in a whole day’s work, their hands must feel exhausted or extremely tired. That is why they seemed to scribble words when they write something.

5.   Gradual Deterioration of Handwriting

Over time, due to consistent high volume and time pressure, the doctor’s handwriting slowly leads to becoming scribbles. 

Although not all doctors have bad handwriting and some of them used to have nice penmanship before it became illegible, as time passes and with the volume of rigorous works, they have to deal every day, coupled with lots of time pressure, leads their handwriting to gradual deterioration.

The increasing number of deaths and incorrect medicine intake has led the medical industry to make changes to this problem. By saying so, all doctors are highly encouraged to use electronic forms of diagnosis reports, prescriptions, medical certificates, and other relevant medical records to curb the surge.

Besides, using technology in processing data or sending reports these days is more efficient, faster, and more accurate.


In closing, there are justifiable and significant reasons why doctors tend to write illegibly. Time, pressure, and volume of work and paperwork, as well as the number of patients, in-waiting highly contribute to the scrawled or unreadable penmanship.

Even so, not all doctors have unintelligible penmanship. There are other physicians who can write competently. It is just that the world has this notion of stereotyping doctors having bad handwriting.

Due to the indecipherable notes and prescriptions, doctor’s bad handwriting contributes greatly to the number of deaths. Studies showed that pharmacists and other healthcare workers tend to give and administer, respectively, wrong medications because of doctor’s unreadable prescriptions.

As a result, the medical industry highly urges all physicians and health professionals to use electronic forms in releasing prescriptions and other related medical reports to stop or mitigate the problem.

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