prescription slip a red herring?

The prescriptions doctors have given me have always been
illegible. I always wondered if they were a red herring,
perhaps meant to make it more difficult for someone to fake
having a prescription. I guessed the pharmacist must just
call the doctor upon getting such a cryptic piece of paper,
and ask what they should give me. But that would involve
the doctor’s phone number being on the prescription slip,
which I suppose isn’t too unlikely, but I don’t remember
well enough if any of my prescriptions had the doctor’s
phone number. So I ask are the little pieces of paper the
doctors give you just a red herring in this sense? (Perhaps
not always but sometimes?)

I am a doc, and I have never written a prescription which was not meant to be read and filled. I don’t know any of my colleagues who claim to do such nonsense either. What a tremendous waste of our time it would be.

Qadgop, MD

Part of what makes a prescription hard to read is the “codes” doctors use. Once you know what these are, it’s much easier to read a prescription. Here’s a link:

So you see BID means take twice a day. If you don’t know that, and see it scrawled on the prescription, you think, “Wow! That’s bad handwritting! That doesn’t even look like a word!”

In my experience doctors are writing more clearly on prescriptions these days. I vaguely remember getting prescriptions written in illegible cursive in the past. Now they’re usually written in print.

If you ask the pharmacist filling your prescription, they’ll probably be willing to explain what it says. Then you won’t feel like you’ve been given a red herring.

Doctor’s phone numbers are listed on the prescription - pharmacies always call doctors if the prescription isn’t clear, and there is usually a listing somewhere by the phone with all the doctor’s numbers for easy look-up.

I still think they are hard to read just becuase the doctors just scribble them out so fast.


My Ex-SO had absolutely perfect handwriting, which was clearly readable by anyone. Of course, it took her 30 seconds to write a prescription…

Buz, buz.