BAD HANDWRITING….The Institute of Medicine has released a report saying that 1.5 million Americans are harmed each year by mistakes in dispensing prescription drugs:

Mistakes in giving drugs are so prevalent in hospitals that, on average, a patient will be subjected to a medication error each day he or she fills a hospital bed, the report says….The extra medical costs of treating drug-related injuries occurring only in hospitals was estimated conservatively to be $3.5 billion a year.

The errors studied by the Institute included doctors writing illegible prescriptions….

Can we stop right there for a moment so I can ask a question? This is hardly the first time I’ve read that illegible prescriptions are a major cause of drug errors, and yet both doctors and the public have long treated bad handwriting by physicians as a joke of some kind. Why is that? It sure doesn’t seem like a joking matter to me.