Did you know that problematic packaging, drug labels, and drug names contribute to 33 percent of all medication errors annually in this nation? Sadly, poorly designed carton labels and packaging, as well as similar drug names, have led to a great number of fatalities, according to the Institute of Medicine. As a result, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued guidelines asking drug manufacturers to improve medication labels and packaging.
According to the Institute for Safe Medication Practices, the new guidelines that manufacturers are following have been successful and are helping to prevent drug errors by avoiding similar packaging among different products, standardizing the way drug strengths are indicated, and prioritizing the information on drug labels.
When medication cartons and labels are poorly designed, they can “obscure critical safety information,” said Irene Z. Chan, PharmD, BCPS, a safety evaluator in the FDA’s Division of Medication Error Prevention and Analysis. However, drug manufacturers aren’t alone in helping to reduce medicine errors. In fact, hospitals and pharmacists can do a better job of making medications safer.
How Hospitals Can Help Prevent Medicine Mistakes
While it is apparent what drug manufacturers can do to minimize drug error confusion, hospitals can also do their part by using bar coding systems and automated dispensing technology. According to an analysis at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, implementing a car code system reduced 517 adverse drug events.
How Pharmacists Can Help Reduce Rx Errors
Because pharmacies order drugs from different drug manufactures, they can help patients stay safer by only ordering medications from manufacturers who have complied with the FDA and made their containers more distinct. Additionally, they can order medications that come in different dosage forms. For example, they can order one dosage to come in a vial and the other to come in a prefilled syringe. This can help decrease confusion behind the pharmacy counter and help patients stay safe.
Making medications safer for patients isn’t just one person’s job. If drug manufacturers, hospitals, and pharmacists would do their part and help prevent medicine mistakes from happening, more people wouldn’t suffer harm from medication errors. To learn more about how to help prevent a drug error from happening to you, we invite you to read our other articles and blogs on our website or follow us on Twitter.