Why do doctors often have bad handwriting?


Quick Answer

It is generally believed that doctors have such bad handwriting because they are often in such a hurry, both physically and mentally. This is not to say that all doctors have unreadable handwriting. However, multiple studies by the open-access medical journal BMJ show that only 24 percent of doctors get a good or excellent rating for their handwriting and 37 percent of doctors get a poor rating for their handwriting.

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Full Answer

In these multiple peer-reviewed studies, doctors admitted that their sloppy handwriting goes hand in hand with their workload. As patients fill up the waiting room, the quality of their handwriting decreases. Interestingly, a number of doctors admitted that they developed their chicken scratch handwriting under the belief that doctors are supposed to have bad handwriting. This led the BMJ to conclude that some doctors simply write bad on purpose.

Although doctors are known for having bad handwriting, the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine says that this is a clear area that needs to be addressed. This group suggests that illegible handwriting is often mistaken for sloppy care by juries and leads to damaging testimonies in the courtroom. It also gives patients more leverage in malpractice suits against doctors.

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