Peel-off labels reduce drug errors

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A study presented at the 2008 Annual Meeting of the American Society of Anesthesiologists proposes that the relatively simple act of universalizing the look of medication labels can significantly decrease the occurrence of medication errors – errors that cause patients unnecessary harm and cost the health care industry an estimated $3.5 billion each year.

According to Elizabeth H. Sinz, M.D., Donald E. Martin, M.D., and their group from the Department of Anesthesiology at Penn State Hershey, medication errors are all too common.

An average hospital patient may experience one medication error per day, contributing to 1.5 million preventable adverse drug reactions each year, said Dr. Sinz.

Around one-third of these events are the result of errors during the process of administration of intravenous medications – but there currently are no regulations on color usage in the labeling of pharmaceutical products. The Penn State study points to some fairly simple solutions.

We propose that general use of the international color coding of drug classes used in anesthesia by the pharmaceutical industry for labeling and medication packaging might reduce the number of errors which result from human factors, said Dr. Martin.

In the studys simulated operating room environment, volunteer anesthesiologists, residents and nurses drew up medications with different colored labels at an ever-increasing speed to mimic an emergency. The research group then counted mistakes and near-mistakes and found that although the number of actual mistakes was too low to detect a difference, when the color of the label on the syringe matched the color of the label on the bottle, fewer near-mistakes occurred compared to when the colors didnt match.

And when peel-off labels that are taken off the bottle and placed on the syringe were used, errors were reduced and fewer commands were skipped.

Click here for the full story.

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According to Elizabeth H. Sinz, M.D., Donald E. Martin, M.D., and their group from the Department of Anesthesiology at Penn State Hershey, medication errors are all too common.

“An average hospital patient may experience one medication error per day, contributing to 1.5 million preventable adverse drug reactions each year,” said Dr. Sinz.

Around one-third of these events are the result of errors during the process of administration of intravenous medications ― but there currently are no regulations on color usage in the labeling of pharmaceutical products. The Penn State study points to some fairly simple solutions.

“We propose that general use of the international color coding of drug classes used in anesthesia by the pharmaceutical industry for labeling and medication packaging might reduce the number of errors which result from human factors,” said Dr. Martin.

In the study’s simulated operating room environment, volunteer anesthesiologists, residents and nurses drew up medications with different colored labels at an ever-increasing speed to mimic an emergency. The research group then counted mistakes and near-mistakes and found that although the number of actual mistakes was too low to detect a difference, when the color of the label on the syringe matched the color of the label on the bottle, fewer near-mistakes occurred compared to when the colors didn’t match.

And when peel-off labels that are taken off the bottle and placed on the syringe were used, errors were reduced and fewer commands were skipped.

Click here for the full story.

More stories on IVTEAM

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