16 May 2018
THE ILLEGIBILITY OF MEDICAL PRESCRIPTIONS IN CAMEROON
CASE STUDY: BONABERI, DOUALA
The health field is a very delicate domain which is made up of different health personnel. There is need for a perfect collaboration between these various personnel ranging from nurses to the medical doctors to pharmacists, medical laboratory scientists, radiologists and the differentspecialties, so as to facilitate the process of saving human life as well as helping patients to regain health as well as enhance wellbeing.
Over the last 6 months, I have been undergoing my first precious moments of professional experience, as a postgraduate Pharmacist intern, under the supervision an experienced pharmacist,NJEI Moses Timah, the Director of AFRICA PHARMACY, Douala.
Throughout this period, I have noticed some pertinent shortcomings within the health sector in Cameroon and I would be tackling one of them in this article. I hope this goes a long way to create a positive impact within the health sector in the country.
It is no news that some medical doctors have the habit of writing in a very illegible manner when taking down patient medical history, making recommendations and writing down medical prescriptions.
I remember about 5 years ago, during the Medical psychology course when the lecturer brought up the topic concerning the illegible handwritings of medical doctors, he went on to say it had a positive impact on the psychology of the patient, since the illegible writing mystifies the whole therapeutic process and makes the medical doctor standout as a ‘’demi-god’’.
He added that it also helped the patient in developing a high level of trust in the doctor which is an important factor in therapy, since it creates a positive placebo effect.
I don’t think this same ideology still holds nowadays. In the past, persons who were not of the medical field had little or no information about medicine because access to information was pretty limited at the time, so only those who had the chance to go to medical school had the knowledge of medicine. Today, we are in the 21st century, the digital age where before a patient walks into a doctor’s office or pharmacy, he/she must have ‘googled’ a few of his/her symptoms and look up for possible diagnosis and even treatments. I’m not saying google can give an individual all the medical knowledge that is gotten from 7-15 years of medical school. Yet persons are no longer ignorant, there is a very high access to information these days. Sometimes medical personnel who don’t stay updated can even be embarrassed by some smart questions from some smart and informed patients. I see no need in writing down a prescription which cannot be read out these days, all because you want to mystify the medical profession or for whatever reason. This rather puts the life and health of the patient at risk because a misread prescription which is unclear can conduct the pharmacist or auxiliary staff to dispense a wrong drug to the patient or a wrong dosage with a wrong posology. This could have enormous consequences on the health of the patient. Some even go as far as scratching down recommendations or RENDEZ-VOUS. What is the need of writing down a medical advice in an unclear manner? For instance, I saw a medical advice saying ‘’ drink more water, do more physical exercises and take a low salt diet’’ but it was so badly written down that I had to stress the hell out of my eyes to be able to read that out to the poor patient who had tried yet was unable to. In a similar way, another one was, ‘’Rendezvous in 2 weeks time’’ yet the patient was unable to read it out, she even thought it was a medical prescription.
Nowadays good medical prescriptions are supposed to be typed out and printed with a clearly indicated posology (how to take the drugs) and duration of treatment. In Cameroon, a few medical doctors especially specialist such as Ophthalmologists and Gynecologists have adopted this habit.
In addition to the unclearly written prescriptions, they are also very incomplete. Sometimes they carry no stamp and signature, no duration of treatment, no dosage form.
The contact of the prescriber is very important in case the pharmacist might need to reach out to verify, discuss or confirm any issues concerning the medical prescription.
Here are some characteristics of a good medical prescription.
· Name of the drug (international nonproprietary name or brand name)
· Dosage and form
· Route of administration
· Quantity to be dispensed
· Name of patient
· Name of the prescriber, stamp, signature and contact
Name of patient: Jay Lemuel
Metronidazole (Flagyl) 500 mg tablets
1 tablet t.i.d for 7 days, P.O
Dr. Princewil J.B, (stamp and signature)
Rail, Bonaberi, Douala
Phone: +237 6881205xx
Some abbreviations you might find on medical prescriptions and their meanings
qd- once daily
bid- twice daily
tid- three times daily
qid -four times daily
0po- per oral or orally
I will conclude by saying that medical personnel should make it a habit of writing clearly and to do proper medical prescriptions so as to make sure the patient receives the proper treatment which is one of the most important steps in the process of therapy after diagnosis. The better option is to type down and print out medical prescriptions and make sure the posology is written in a way that the patient will be able to interpret and adhere to therapy.
Until I come your way again, stay blessed and look forward for more interesting articles on this website.
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- JINOH J BANJONG (Pharm.D.)
Jinor J Banjong