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Pens For Docs


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94 replies to this topic

#1 politovski

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Posted 18 July 2012 - 04:13

I was reading the recent review of pens for mathematics, and I was struck by some of the similarities to my quest for the perfect pen. I was inspired to write something about my experiences as a pen snob/addict. Our daily tasks involve quite a bit of writing, from progress notes (the bulk of our writing), orders, letters, prescriptions, and answering faxes and telephone messages. We encounter a variety of papers and conditions, most of them involving aweful conditions and even worse paper. Most Docs use cheap ballpoints and treat them as very disposable and forgetable (sometimes even interchangable) objects. Personally, I have always been a gel ink guy, and had never liked ballpoints. Then, starting in residency, we had some issues with dishonest people altering scripts (via various methods which i will not be covering here), as well as with some questions as to the authenticity of notes on charts necessitating a more permanent solution. I found Noodler's inks, but was rather chagrined to find that they only worked in fountain pens, and one rather expensive rollerball from Monteverde.
Thus started my search for the perfect pen. I have used a cheap cross no name pen, a waterman phileas, several pelikanos, a lamy vista, a Reform, a Noodlers demonstrator, a shaeffer calligraphy pen, platinum preppy pens, a pilot plumix, a Noodlers Nib creeper, and various other low cost solutions and was disappointed. Then, I got a Rotring Newton, and was astounded by the quality of the nib, but stymied by the leakage issues I had. Then, I got a Pelikan GO (M75) and still use this, and stumbled onto a sale of a Lamy 2000, which has been by goto 1-2 punch for some time. Then, Kevin had a Densho, and I actually had some funds. Serious pen addiction, I know. My search continues though, as none of these is perfect for all situations. I have detailed some criteria in the images, and have thought of several other key things, namely the ability to swap nibs, and the ability to stay clean. Unfortunately, the 2000 and Densho are a bit lacking in this department, and not really fit for heavy work use for several days. Convertors are out of the question, as they hold too little ink and stopping to fill them is not feasible, as time is money. And, creating an inky mess does not look very good, and can ruin expensive clothing, as I have discovered, much to my misfortune. And, as one of my colleagues with a Pilot VP discovered, hospital floors are unforgiving and had claimed 4+ of her precious nibs. Said floors have claimed my nib creeper and cracked the base of my M75. Unfortunately, emergencies come up.
So what is the perfect pen? My answer is that there are multiple pens for multiple situations, and much like in medicine, multimodal therapy is sometimes needed. Overall though, and perhaps this is blasphemy and will have me banned for life, the Pilot G2 has been a stalwart companion, the ink is nearly bulletproof, it is cheap, tough, inconspicuous, and just works, as long as the refill is good. My Lamy 2000 is a close #2, but the nib is so wet that even X-feather will bleed and feather on the cheap hospital paper. My Densho is not a good choice, as it is just too pricey to trust in chaotic environments, and is currently too scratchy and not reliable enough, although it does hold ink for about a month, even with heavy usage. The M75 is good, and is certainly in the rotation (currently loaded with a mix of X-feather and bulletproof black) as my goto progress note pen, but it is old and the filling mechanism has been comprimised by a nasty fall and crack to the barrel. The cheaper pens have all failed me. I am curious about other professionals experiences at work. Perhaps this would be a good starting point for other medical professionals as well.
-p
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Edited by watch_art, 19 July 2012 - 02:56.


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#2 professionaldilettante

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Posted 18 July 2012 - 05:23

I'm on my way to reaching there, and I've found a Pilot Fermo loaded with Sailor Kiwa-guro to be very handy in the hospital setting. No cap to lose!
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#3 hari317

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Posted 18 July 2012 - 11:55

You can also consider ferro gallic inks like MB midnight blue for water resistant writing. Parker 51 flighter: excellent slip cap and can be disinfected with spirit swab?
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#4 PDW

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Posted 18 July 2012 - 12:59

How about starting at the other end of the argument.

Dropped pens destroying nibs: cheap, easily replaceable nibs.

Dropped pens in general: cheap, robust pens that you won't cry over if they fall on the floor and/or get trodden on.

No time to refill: large converters, visible ink level so you can refill or top up as convenient before the need arises and/or cheap pens so you can have more than one on the go and swap as necessary.

My suggestion: Lamy Safaris with converters (and a box of spare nibs? :D ) or, if you don't like the triangular grip, how about Lamy Nexxs, unless cleanliness militates against the rubber grip? The latter can also be kept on lanyards if pens fall out of pockets and working conditions allow something to swing from your neck.

Edited by PDW, 18 July 2012 - 12:59.


#5 dgturner

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Posted 18 July 2012 - 14:57

I would second the Lamy Safari/Vista combination and note that getting the Safari onto a lanyard should be trivial (that clip is freakin' awesome! quite nice).

I would also suggest a TWSBI 540,while a bit more expensive than the Safari/Nexx route it has several benefits (some shared with the Safari/Vista):
  • poly carbonate should be easy to keep clean
  • piston fill with a large capacity
  • clearly visible supply
  • multiple nibs available for replacement
Also consider the Pilot varsity, despite being disposable, they can be refilled.
In addition consider the Platinum Plasir with an adater, additional nibs can be had by purchasing Preppys Posted Image. I do not recommend the Preppy itself however, the pen is entirely to fragile to be trusted if dropped repeatedly (or where it may be stepped upon).

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#6 mik86

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Posted 18 July 2012 - 16:02

I would suggest a japanese EF nib if you don't already have this. Your ink will last a lot longer, and as long as you have an ink window in your pen, you will know when you are getting low.

#7 neonate

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Posted 18 July 2012 - 16:58

I understand your pain. I've been using PILOT 78G for last few months with no issues so far. Cheap and smooth. Cartridges are freely available at reasonable price -mainly black. I have used TWSBI 540 with 1.1 stub and I could go without refill for 2 weeks. I am going to try my Deccan Advocate junior this month, took almost 3 ml of ink and might last a while.

#8 Blade Runner

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Posted 18 July 2012 - 17:27

I like the Zebra F-301 ballpoint fine nib. In the setting of awful paper, writing on scrubs, skin, tape, plastic, writing through triplicate forms, and sometimes writing on wet paper, I find a ballpoint is the way to go in a hectic hospital setting.

#9 Lszuk

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Posted 19 July 2012 - 00:22

I have been using fountain pens for the entire 31 yrs I have been working as a Cardiologist. I have used several different types of pens, but have mostly found that Parker 51, MB 146, 149 , and Pelikan 800 and 1000 to be the most useful. I use a F nib, which works well, even with cheap hospital paper. I also carry a ball pen for orders, etc.

The biggest problem is the drive to employ electronic med. records (EMR), as there becomes less of a chance to continue to use my beloved fountain pens.

#10 cellmatrix

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Posted 19 July 2012 - 01:05

I am a physician and yes its true we are forced to sign and write on bad paper all the time, fax paper copy paper etc so for ink (and echoing previous comments) I like to use iron gall based blue black (I really like Pharmacist's Urkundentinte). Its both permanent, and it also works really well on bad paper.

As far as a pen, when working with patients, I would rather have the conversation center around them, especially their illness, rather than some fancy pen I am carrying.

So for that reason I like to carry around a black matte VP at work and keep any fancy pens for personal use outside the clinic. (for what it's worth the VP is a pendleton point, so even though others don't realize it, its plenty fancy in its own stealth way ;) )

Edit to add:
I've found my VP to be quite durable although I try not to drop it if I can help it. If it ever did break, I'd likely only need to replace either the body or the nib unit - not the whole pen.

Edited by cellmatrix, 19 July 2012 - 02:46.


#11 genls

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Posted 19 July 2012 - 01:35

It would seem that Pilot VP and Decimo are the easiest to use. One handed operation seems great for the hospital, and matches the convenience offered by ballpoints and gel pens.

Next are pens without caps that have rotating mechanisms, like the Pilot Fermo, Lamy Dialog 3, Stipula Da Vinci, etc. These are also pretty easy to open, and there is no cap to lose.

Less convenient would be snap caps. Stuff like Waterman Carene or Edson, Dupont Defi, Omas 360, etc. They are more traditional, and are probably more comfortable to use than the above. But they have caps to lose.

Least convenient are screw caps. They take a little longer to open and close.

This is how I see the convenience of fountain pens in general.... I think the ideal pen for use in a hospital would be a Pilot VP with a clip that disappears completely when opened, has a piston fill mechanism (or otherwise a very large converter), and doesn't make a sound when clicked....

#12 haldane3

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Posted 19 July 2012 - 02:36

I confess, I ruined a Waterman Expert city nib by attempting to put it in my white coat during rounds, missing the pocket, and watch it drop straight on the rock hard hospital floor and ruin the nib. Needless to say, I now use a cheaper pen during "bustling rounds" and so forth.

Sooo, in general I carry two pens, a cheaper but reliable Kaweco for taking quick notes and writing down labs during rounds. My other pen is my Waterman Carene for writing my daily notes, smooth and nice and meets my professional quality requirement. I work in pediatrics, so there is less concern for counterfeit Rx's and so forth, hence I do prefer Waterman ink for reliable, well behaved ink on a variety of paper.

In general, I like Waterman pens for having a nice weight, built with nice materials, and being nice writers. I have an Exception on the way for black tie affairs (i.e. when I risk wearing a tie to work and having toddlers yank it). I have limited experience with other pens, and I don't care for the demonstrator style that now seem to be popular among TWSBI/pilot type brands. So I stick tradition there, but those pens do tend to be more economical and less painful to, *cough*, drop on the floor. I have a Lamy safari which writes nicely, but I can't get over it's styling for daily use.

Dr. Dan

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#13 PDW

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Posted 19 July 2012 - 11:16

A slightly off-the-wall thought - if you use an FP and patients look at it and want one, a conversion might be more succcessful if you can tell them (or, if young, their parents) as they think about the cost that it's a $20 pen and not $200!

Edited by PDW, 19 July 2012 - 11:17.


#14 Dillo

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Posted 19 July 2012 - 15:23

Hi,

I'd suggest buying a bunch of Hero 616 pens, get a gold nib swapped in from a Hero 100 then have it tuned if you want something ferrogallic. The pens make rather fine lines and aren't the most wet. You can also monitor ink level, and if one breaks, the cost is minimal. You can just pull out another one or swap parts around. For a minimal cost, I'd have someone tune up a bunch for you so that you can have a stash and a lot of backups if anything goes strange. You can also have a bunch so that if one runs dry, you can just pull out another one.

The Pilot Capless seems to also be a good choice for convenience as long as it doesn't get dropped too often.

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#15 wbpeoria

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Posted 19 July 2012 - 17:41

It sounds to me like you're looking for a TWSBI 540.

Wayne

#16 rao00010

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Posted 19 July 2012 - 17:57

I have posted previously on my troubles with hospital progress note paper, and since then I have found that my Parker 45 Fine nib with R &K Salix works well. There are still some sheets of paper where it feathers, but my attitude has been "as long as they can read my writing, I'll live with the feathering." We just deployed our EMR though, so my pens will mostly reside in my white coat pocket.

Sunil

#17 haldane3

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Posted 20 July 2012 - 14:41

I have posted previously on my troubles with hospital progress note paper, and since then I have found that my Parker 45 Fine nib with R &K Salix works well. There are still some sheets of paper where it feathers, but my attitude has been "as long as they can read my writing, I'll live with the feathering." We just deployed our EMR though, so my pens will mostly reside in my white coat pocket.

Sunil


Sigh, indeed. EMR has cut down my FP use significantly as well. We went live June 1st. I'm thinking about joining a letter exchange actually.
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#18 drbalajipsy

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Posted 20 July 2012 - 17:13

I use a Parker Vector and a Vector Gold. I want to know which is a suitable permanent ink for use in the Vector. Records should be resistant to rain and spillage.

#19 hari317

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Posted 20 July 2012 - 18:24

I use a Parker Vector and a Vector Gold. I want to know which is a suitable permanent ink for use in the Vector. Records should be resistant to rain and spillage.


Montblanc midnight blue, Diamine Registrar's ink. i use both. excellent.
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#20 dms525

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Posted 20 July 2012 - 20:03

All the medical records with which I deal are computerized. So, no hand-written H&P's or progress notes. I use fountain pens in the office for quick chart notes - lab results, for example - and for outpatient prescriptions that need to be hand-written. I mostly write with various Pelikan M600's that have cursive italic nibs, custom ground. I write in formal italic. I enjoy the humorous comments that come back from pharmacists regarding a doctor whose handwriting they can read.

David






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