What's with all this talk about doctors' writing? Is it true that they write more illegibly than the general population? Well, I can't speak for the whole of humankind so I will give you the answer that my pharmacist just shared. I asked, "What percentage of doctors' writing on prescriptions is very difficult to read?" And— "Do you ever have to call the office to clarify what it says?" The answers? "30%+ are impossible." "Yes, we have to call." That actually was better than I expected. I'm glad to hear that many physicians write just fine. Good thing. A lot of them are out there doing surgery! And all of them write prescriptions.
Now for a war story: a few years ago my primary physician added a suggestion to something he gave me to read. I could not make it out. I faxed it back to his office with my note, "What does this say? I cannot read it." The office person called me and laughingly said that she had to go in and ask him. He had a little trouble reading his own writing.
A year or two later, the same doctor wrote a prescription for my husband's medication, which the pharmacy 'read' as a different medication (close in name to the other one.) When I picked it up and realized it was not the right one the pharmacy had to call the doctor—and you know the drill. I was not a happy camper. But I wanted him to talk to him in person. So, the next time I went in for a physical I calmly brought it up and reminded him of the two incidents. I suggested that he clean up his act before something else happened. He was not a clear verbal communicator either, usually cursory and vague. I had to pull most information, which I was entitled to know, out of him piece-by-piece. We are no longer with the same health plan. I can only hope he slowed down to write more legibly. I doubt it. (His writing also showed a high degree of feeling self-important. Wait till we get to how to find that in handwriting! :) )
In that same facility I went to an eye doctor, who had the clearest writing imaginable. She explained everything willingly, in great detail and with an anticipatory overview of future possibilities. She was a marvelous doctor. We had quite a discussion about handwriting. Hers confirmed not only her analytical skill but her willingness and ability to explain complex things simply. That is a gift.
There are ways to improve illegible writing. After receiving training I have worked with some clients to correct it, at least to get to the point of readability. Nobody says you have to have beautiful handwriting. The first thing to do is remember it is considerate to make writing legible. Second, slow down. Third, make sure every middle zone letter part, which should go to the baseline, actually reaches that point, so that each letter is defined. Just those three steps may help enough.