A Heated Argument About…Pens!


By:  The Musing Medic (@TheMusingMedic)


So I took a look back over my previous entries as well as those from other authors and it occurred to me that we could use a moment of levity. Allow me to address a topic that is both light and refreshing yet pertinent to all my colleagues.


A Heated Argument About The Right Tool For The Job


This is a hot topic in my workplace, particularly with physicians. The idea for this post came to me the other day when an attending and myself got into a heated discussion over what pen was the best type to use in our particular department. Now to many of you this is a moot point as EMR has become quite ubiquitous. But sadly, we continue to use paper charting (at least for the next few months). So choosing the correct writing utensil, in this case a pen, is actually pretty important.


I suppose a number of my colleagues will pick up whatever black or blue pen is stocked in the supply cabinet. Usually these are ballpoint pens with a cap rather than the click-type pen. These are not usually of the highest quality and are purchased in bulk. If one gets lost or covered with some bodily fluid, just chuck it in the garbage and grab another. But I have to say, the writing experience over the course of a twelve hour shift is terrible. These pens drag and blob, leaving unsightly marks all over the place. Additionally, the ink can wash out and be removed from official documents fairly easily so there is a security factor to consider. I can’t say I have much love for these all-too-common office staples.


On the other end of the spectrum are gel pens. Typically these pens are smooth and reliable. Very little residual ink stays on the tip of the pen and most are safe enough to use on official documents without risk of washing the ink out. I can see why those with the ability to prescribe prefer to use these. My only complaint is the ink runs out quickly and they are a bit more costly. Still, they are leaps and bounds above ballpoint pens.


There are a few other types of pens that exist but are less common. One is of course the classic rollerball pen. Think of a Pilot Precise V5 or V7. The ink is nice and dark with smooth writing. But these tend to feather or leak and are not safe for airplane travel as the pressure change causes the pen to leak ink all over the place. The other type is a fountain pen. I know a few people who use these but considering the cost and efficiency of using one in a busy ED, I think there are much better choices out there (however, I do use fountain pens away from work).


If I Had To Choose Just One Pen

If I had to choose one pen to write with it would be an advanced ink pen. These pens combine ballpoint and gel ink together. What you get is a smooth writing pen with dark ink and security. They cost a little more but the ink cartridge lasts a good while. These are fairly new on the market but a few of the most well known are the uni-Ball Jetstream, Pilot Acroball, and Papermate Inkjoy. But I don’t use any of these on a regular basis.


No, I use the Cello Topball 0.7mm in black ink. These pens are designed in Germany and manufactured in India. The pen is lightweight and has a needle tip. This allows for fine, precise writing. The ink is smooth and dark, composed of the advanced hybrid ink I previously mentioned. They are hard to find in the U.S. but can be ordered online.


I can’t believe I just wrote a whole article about pens but I think a little levity and banality is a welcome distraction from our normal topics.


Please share your favorite pen in the comments section.


Next week’s article will focus on Trendelenberg position and its utilization.


Till next time


The Musing Medic