Nalgonda-based pharmacist Chilkuri Paramathma's lone battle against prescription errors, which began in 2012, finally came to fruition. Union ministry of health and family welfare issued a public notice asking citizens to send their feedback on the proposed rule about writing drug names in capital letters. The deadline for writing to the ministry's joint secretary (medical education) Ali R Rizvi, at firstname.lastname@example.org, is August 17.
"The rule, compelling doctors to write the generic names of drugs legibly and in capital letters, has been pending for a long time. Now that the public notice has been issued by the Union ministry, it is only a matter of days before the new rule is formally adopted through a gazette notification," said Dr K Ramesh Reddy, member, Medical Council of India (MCI).
Dr K Ramesh Reddy pointed out that once the new rule is inducted into the rulebook, any deviation from it by allopathy doctors, if proven, would amount to misconduct. The punishment for misconduct ranges from mere warning to removal of name from the register.
"Apart from writing drug names in capital letters, authorities must also ensure that a list of all confusable brand names of drugs, which either look similar or sound similar, be compiled and shared with doctors and pharmacists to reduce chances of prescription errors," suggested Paramathma.
The director of medical education (DME), Telangana, in a circular dated July 29, has already directed all superintendents of medical teaching hospitals in the state to ensure that doctors working in their respective hospitals write generic drug names in capital letters alone. While attending critical care cases the doctors have been given the liberty to write brand names of drugs.
When contacted, Dr M Ramani, DME, Telangana, clarified that an exception to the rule (writing brand names instead of generic names of drugs) was required in emergency situation as the doctors may not be in a position to remember generic names due to paucity of time. "The patient's life is important during emergencies. One cannot wait to recall the generic name of a drug in such a situation," she said.