Why Doctors Have Unclear Handwriting and What It Means

Why Doctors Have Unclear Handwriting and What It Means
Doctors' handwriting

Doctors’ handwriting

Why doctors’ handwriting is unclear handwriting

Years ago, I heard about the awkward predicament of a young girl. She used to visit chemist shops frequently. No, she was not a patient of chronic diarrhoea; she was in a long-distance relationship with a doctor who used to write to her once a week.

Like most doctors, his handwriting was also illegible. It could not be read: it could only be deciphered.

Most doctors’ handwriting is illegible and it’s extremely annoying. We have all experienced it.

Forget about names of the medicines on the prescription, we can’t even figure out whether we have to pop the pill before waking up or after going to bed.

Like a bunch of buffoons, we have to depend on the extraordinary ability of salesmen at medicine shops to know what has been prescribed to us.

“Why is doctors’ handwriting always unclear? Why can’t they write clearly?” an exasperated chemist near my residence once muttered when I handed over to him a medical prescription.

The query could indeed by categorised as a universal poser: why don’t doctors write legibly?

But I believe a more pertinent question here should be: why doctors’ handwriting is illegible and what does it mean? We’ll try finding answers here.

Are they careless?

Recently, I came across a report about a Mumbai doctor who was lambasted by a court of law for preparing a medical report in illegible handwriting.

Following the rap, the doctor gave an undertaking in the court that she would try to improve her handwriting. It was a good precedent set by the court.

Even as I was reading the report, a friend called up and said, “Vishwas, why don’t you write on doctors’ illegible handwriting?”

“If I do, I will die unattended when I’m unwell,” I told the friend.

Doctors’ handwriting: When it is clear, it shows that the doctor cares for the patient.

“Never mind. There are certainly a few doctors who write legibly and you can depend on them,” she argued.

She was right. I decided to write on doctors who write illegibly. Handwriting experts across the world have established that consistently illegible handwriting is indicative of a subconscious inclination to be careless, negligent and sloppy towards the person for whom it has been written.

Therefore, if a doctor writes illegibly for his patients, it means he is inconsiderate to the recipients of the prescriptions.

It’s like an attitude imprinted on the paper, which could be roughly put into words in the following manner:

“I don’t care whether you are able to read it or not; I don’t care whether you get well or not; I am sitting here doing my job the way I like, in my own style. How much you will be benefitted from my skills is your problem, and I am not going to be least bothered about what happens to you after you leave this cabin. Just pay the fee to my assistant and get out…”

I know it sounds bizarre but according to graphology that’s what illegible handwriting means.

Doctors’ argument: ‘We’re busy’

Most doctors argue that they write illegibly because they are in haste and they have to attend to many patients.

Now, I have a little problem with this argument. It’s complete hogwash. We can prove it.

On an average, a doctor does not write more than 40 words on a prescription. Let’s assume that it takes them about three minutes to write a prescription in illegible handwriting.

But if they write legibly, maybe they will take four minutes. Not more than that. The difference is just about 60 seconds.

Doc, are you telling us that you write illegibly because you are too busy to spare 60 seconds to the person who is paying you for it?

Sorry, sir, give us another one. If you consistently write illegibly for your patients, it shows your carelessness and inconsideration.

And if you’re not convinced, refer to an abstract published in the Manipal Journal of Medical Sciences:

  1. Writing illegibly is not a deliberate act to confuse people, but an unintentional consequence of giving due importance to other things now. We should acknowledge that they are no ordinary but the very people who show fine motor skills for complex surgical procedures.
  2. The doctors tend to put all the energy and focus into the diagnosis and treatment rather than the written notes or prescription and patient and their relatives anxiously waiting to receive the prescription add on. However, doctors’ handwriting is no better, when they write general letters during leisure hours at home.
Illegible handwriting

Doctors’ handwriting illegible: Some doctors argue that they are in haste and they have to attend to many patients.

Interestingly, the same friend who told me to write on doctors’ illegible handwriting shared with me that her grandfather, a doctor, used to write illegibly on prescriptions. But surprisingly, his handwriting was amazingly clear when he wrote personal letters. Why is that?

Legibility means showing care

It’s because legible handwriting shows that you care for the recipient of the text. Hence, every time he wrote to his family members, he wanted to show how caring he is.

Haven’t all of us experienced that we become very concerned about legibility while writing on greetings cards? Have you ever thought why?

I’m sure you got your answer today. If you didn’t, here it is: Legibility, handwriting analysis says, is a subconscious way to show care.

So, next time you receive a get-well-soon card with messages in illegible handwriting, I’m sure you will know how to take it.

Now, let’s get back to doctors’ handwriting.

Doctors’ handwriting & signature both illegible

doctors handwriting

Doctors’ handwriting, if it is legible, shows that they care for the recipient of the text.

If their signature is as illegible as their handwriting, then I really do not know what to say. I’ll rather not get into that possibility here, because I don’t want doctors to issue a fatwa against me and blacklist me as a patient.

Illegible handwriting coupled with an unclear signature is a deadly combination. The patients of such doctors say: “My doctor gave me six months to live, but when I couldn’t pay the bill, he gave me six months more.”

You may read more about signatures in this article on signature analysis.

By the way, guys, what do you think of the relationship between the doctor and the girl who visited the chemist shop frequently? Do you think that guy really loved her?

I’m not telling you the answer. This one is easy. Go, figure!

Disclaimer: One element of handwriting may be analysed at a time, but always look at the entire handwriting sample before arriving at any conclusion.