It’s Handwriting Day today. National Handwriting Day, to be exact, but as I’m prone to do, I’ll just ignore the ‘National’ bit, and claim this US day for the rest of us.
Handwriting – a unique expression of personality, with stylistic nuances making each person’s writing different. Sadly, writing is an art that seems to be fast dying away as we type our way through the day. Where people used to take pride in drafting artfully crafted hand-written letters, our modern-day fingers are much more adept at finding their way across a keyboard or touch-screen.
Writing some Christmas cards a while ago, I was reminded again how bad and inconsistent my handwriting has become, and how quickly my hands started getting painfully tired. If I were to subject myself to a handwriting analysis right now, I’m sure there’d be serious questions asked about my character.
At least I don’t have to feel alone in the bad handwriting department – most doctors beat me by a country mile when it comes to illegible scribbling. I’ve never been able to understand why bad handwriting appears to be a prerequisite for entering the medical profession. Yet it seems to be the case – according to a 2007 article in Time Magazine, doctors’ sloppy handwriting directly resulted in the death of no less than 7000 people in the US per year (based on a July 2006 report from the National Academies of Science’s Institute of Medicine). According to the article, “…preventable medication mistakes also injure more than 1.5 million Americans annually. Many such errors result from unclear abbreviations and dosage indications and illegible writing on some of the 3.2 billion prescriptions written in the U.S. every year.”
If these are the figures for the US, imagine what it must be internationally!? If that is not a good argument to get doctors using tablets (tablet computers, I mean) and typing e-prescriptions, then I don’t know what is!
Whether you are a perfectly consistent scribe, or the proud owner of an illegible scribble, today is the day to celebrate your handwriting style – it’s one of the things that make you uniquely you. Perhaps Handwriting Day is just the time to make a commitment to writing more by hand – losing this special skill will surely be a terrible tragedy.