Malathy Iyer TNN

Mumbai: The government on Friday released guidelines for doctors to write prescriptions giving more information about their qualifications, field of specialty and other professional details, besides ensuring that it is easily legible and conforms to standards.

Prescription guidelines prepared by the Food & Drug Administration on the basis of the Drug & Cosmetics Act suggest a uniform format, advise putting down names of medicines in capital letters and also generic names of drugs a much as possible.

“The idea is to have a uniform format so that pharmacists across the state can understand them and there can be no mistake in understanding the dosages,” said FDA commissioner Mahesh Zagade.

The guidelines, prepared in consultation with the Indian Medical Association’s Maharashtra branch and the Retail & Dispensing Chemists’ Association, include a pattern for marking dosages for patients. Doctors have been advised to write in capital letters and mention generic names of drugs wherever possible.

Failure to understand prescriptions or illegible handwriting of doctors is considered as leading causes for medical errors. “Such rules will ensure that there are fewer complaints of adverse drug reactions,” said Zagade.

Importantly, a prescription will have to carry details of a doctor’s education and the name of the council he/ she is registered with. “At present, doctors only write MD to suggest they are specialists, but if it is MBBS plus MD degree or BAMS plus MD degree is not made clear,” said an FDA official, adding that such details should be mentioned as the patient has a right to chose between an ayurvedic and allopathic doctor.

The doctor’s council — homoeopathic, ayurvedic or allopathic — also has to be mentioned. “The format will be a boon for patients as well as doctors,” said Dr Jayesh Lele of the Maharashtra branch of the Indian Medical Association.

Many of the guidelines are also part of the new Clinical Establishments Act, which is likely to be implemented soon.“As for the patients, he or she will have clearly written out prescriptions,” Lele added.

Doctors have to spell out their basic (say, MBBS or BAMS) as well as advanced degrees (MD or MS) on the letterhead they write prescriptions on

The letterheads will also have to carry the doctor’s registration number and council (say, allopathic council, homeopathy or ayurvedic) with which he/she is registered

Names of medicines to be written in capital letters
Only generic names and no brand names
Details of patients problems
Prescriptions need to adhere to government approved markings for dosages

Peek at the Future
Half the doctors in the US prescribe drugs electronically. That is, they send e-prescriptions directly to the pharmacies (say, in hospitals and clinics) or print them out E-prescriptions began in 2003 after the US government gave incentives to doctors to change over to e-prescription In India, softwares are available that allow doctors to type e-prescriptions. But availability and usage pretty low.