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Joy Hicks

Handwriting Leads to Medical Office Mistakes

By April 15, 2013

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Whether someone's penmanship is good or bad, it can lead to serious Medical Office mistakes. For years, mistakes in the Medical Office were blamed on poor physician penmanship.
  • Pharmacies were giving patients the wrong medication because they couldn't read the physician's handwriting on the prescription.
  • Referring physician's signatures were so illegible that other health care professionals had no way of knowing whom to contact about patient concerns.
  • Medical coders could not accurately add HCPCS codes or ICD-9 codes to medical claims if they can't read the patient's chart.
However, these same mistakes can be made even with good penmanship. The slightest mistake can lead to major misinterpretation.
  • One letter missing from a word can change the entire meaning of it.
  • One missed decimal point can take what should be a small dose to a very large dose.
  • An incorrect abbreviation can lead to treatment delays that risk patient welfare.
  • The solution to handwritten-related mistakes can be solved in two ways:
    1. E-prescribing: CMS defines e-prescribing as an accurate and error-free electronic method of sending prescriptions to pharmacies.
    2. Electronic Health Record: Improved accuracy is just one benefit of integrating to an electronic medical record system. There are five major benefits of switching from a paper medical record to an electronic health record (EHR).
    Image: Ian Kahn / FreeDigitalPhotos.net


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