Law Bans Rxs Written in Cursive

Pharmacy Times, Volume 0, 0

A new law prohibits health careproviders in Washington State from writingprescriptions in cursive.The law, whichwent into effect in June, requires that allprescriptions be hand-printed, typewritten,or electronically generated. Thenewly passed law does not bar pharmaciesfrom accepting oral or faxed medicationorders or prescriptions. A legibleprescription is defined as a medicationorder that can be read and understoodby the pharmacist, nurse, or practitionerwho must dispense it.

"Until electronic prescribing tools arecommon to clinicians, a legibly writtenprescription may be one of the mostimportant communications related topatient safety and reducing medicationerrors," said Steve Saxe, executive directorof the Washington Board ofPharmacy. "This law is good forproviders, pharmacists, and consumers."

William Robertson, MD, medical directorof the Washington Poison Center, saidhe is willing to accept blame for this bill ifhealth care providers are upset. He saidit has taken him 27 years to make illegibleprescriptions illegal. Unreadable prescriptionsare a problem across thecountry. Oftentimes, pharmacists have totake time away from patients and theirbusy pharmacy to call physicians' officesto get patients' names, dosage requirements,and addresses.

Dr. Robertson said random samples of6000 prescriptions were collectedthroughout Washington with help fromthe state's Board of Pharmacy. Whenpharmacists and other health care professionalstested the samples, theyfound 24% to 32% illegible.